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Surprisingly Creepy Moment

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A work has a scary or disturbing image, scene, portion, etc. that clashes with the prior tone of the work. This hits hard because you would never expect to see something like that in a work like this — especially if said work hails from the Animation Age Ghetto. It's one thing to see a work that advertises itself as outright horror, since it at least prepares the audience for what is yet to come. But it's another to see one that features cute little bunnies and elves on the cover, only for the setting to suddenly become a war-torn wasteland straight out of World War I or a horrifying Eldritch Location, complete with characters having Cruel and Unusual Deaths left and right.

Don't expect the publicity for the work to give away these moments, either.

A Sub-Trope of Mood Whiplash and Nightmare Fuel. Related to What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? (works that are disturbing but family-friendly), What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? (mistaking a work for being family-friendly), Crapsaccharine World (when the contrast is intentional, usually the whole world setting or certain places), Bleak Level (when the Surprise Creepy is in the form of a stage), Art-Style Dissonance, Backstory Horror, and Gut Punch (although this can be overlapped with this trope). Also compare with Cute Creature, Creepy Mouth for individual characters.

See also Disguised Horror Story, where instead of a single moment, the entire work is horror pretending to be saccharine.

By the nature of this trope, entries below will be SPOILERS.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Tamers starts out with a more slice-of-life approach compared to the previous Digimon series, with a heavy focus on Guilmon, Terriermon, and Calumon doing adorable things. After a little while you see a few hints at darker subjects, but nothing much worse than previous Digimon series. Then that cute mischievous Harmless Villain Impmon makes a Bargain with Heaven and kills off Jeri's partner Digimon, with all the long-lasting consequences that entails. Then the D-Reaper shows up and tortures Jeri to feed on her grief. It's like a horrific wake-up call for any children watching it and a breakthrough way prior to the Darker and Edgier shift the franchise takes. For comparison, this clip and this clip came from the same series.
    • Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time: Quartzmon is a surprisingly horrific villain for a light-hearted series infested with filler episodes simply because other villains of his caliber don't play on his level. Not only does he successfully takes over the human world (albeit very briefly), he also invokes a mass Hostage Situation against Tagiru with every human and Digimon he absorbed as a extending his arms like branches, showing the faces of the humans (all trapped in And I Must Scream situations) on his palms and the Digimon trapped inside his limbs.
  • Doraemon: The Record of Nobita's Parallel Visit to the West, for the most part, starts off really cutesy-looking like all previous Doraemon films, until the revelation that their time-traveling antics had changed the past, leading to a ripple effect where in the present, the world's population have been replaced by demons. First, their friends and parents start spouting horns. Then, Nobita's parents serves him fried frogs and lizard soup. Later on, Nobita's Sensei publicly turns into a green-skinned, red-eyed, ferocious horned demon in a moment worthy of a Jump Scare, and it gets worse form there.
  • Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin, being a Shounen manga about dogs and with an anime adaptation made by Toei Animation (Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, etc), it can be easily mistaken for your typical kid-friendly adventure involving cute talking dogs. Then you meet the bears, and that misconception gets cleared up very, very fast...
  • Goodnight Punpun has a cartoony bird-looking protagonist who starts off as an optimistic little boy. But, as the chapters go on, the more mature elements of the Coming of Age Story come to light. It also has creepy visuals, especially when Punpun feels dark.
  • If all you know about Higurashi: When They Cry is the cover, you will be very surprised by the beginning of the first episode, and troubled by the vaguely sinister opening credits, but the bulk of the episode will seem like a typical Slice of Life comedy featuring a boy who has recently moved to a cheerful small town and befriended four female classmates... but before the first episode is over, the boy has realized he's living in a Town with a Dark Secret, and everything starts spinning out of control, and by the end of the fourth episode, half of the main characters have died gruesomely, including the Decoy Protagonist, and you realize the beginning of the first episode showed you that this was going to happen. And then the fifth episode begins with one of the younger main characters stabbing herself to death with a huge knife for no apparent reason, and after the opening credits, it's back to light-hearted comedy.
  • Hunter × Hunter starts off seeming like your typical Shonen adventure series...until people start dying horribly. The series in general has a dark and gritty tone, macabre imagery, mentally disturbed characters (some good, some bad, some all over the place), and violence that's graphic, even by Shonen standards. The creepiness even extends to the main protagonist, an adorable young boy with a dark side of his own.
  • I'm Gonna Be an Angel!: Painfully sweet, cutesy, silly and looks like it was made for some toy store line. By the end of the series, the darkness and creepiness, will make many cringe off. And there's a pretty explicit yaoi innuendo going on there too.
  • The Lyrical Nanoha series certainly looks like your average innocuous Magical Girl series at first, but quickly turns into an illustration of the darker sides of real life and what having superpowers can actually mean, as well as how the innocence of youth can be easily torn away. The scene with Precia Testarossa mercilessly whipping Fate for failing her was one hell of a wakeup call.
  • Magical Witch Punie-chan features a magical princess sent to a high school in the human world as part of her princess training. She has a cute talking animal side-kick, a magic wand, and the ability to animate vegetables into evil minions (or to jump into whatever she's cooking). This adorable little girl wrestles opponents with the intention of breaking bones, says "submission is a princess's way!", and her animal sidekick, who was forced to be her pet after she kicked the tar out of him, constantly wants to kill her. Within the magical kingdom, not everything is so magical; for instance, an army of slaves is used to move trains. None of this is ever shocking to Puni, but her normal human companions are often either stunned or frightened.
  • Master of Martial Hearts seems to just be a typical Panty Fighter tournament series for the first four episodes, but there are hints that the Platonic Heart tournament is Not Just a Tournament. The final episode comes with the grisly reveal that all the losers are kidnapped and drugged to become Sex Slaves, and the losers of this tournament are shown in full detail having been drugged so thoroughly that they are laughing like crazy, completely brain dead as their handers treat them like pets, and Aya is aghast at what has been done to them (especially since one of them is her chemistry teacher), all while creepy music plays in the background.
  • One episode of the NHK series Shakin aired a scene of a cute adorable angel, which suddenly transforms into a creepy demonic form. And yes, it was part of a kids' show. Must be seen to be believed.
  • Plus-Sized Elf is first and foremost an ecchi comedy series, so you don't really expect the creepy moments:
    • The chapter about the girls telling each other ghost stories the main joke is that none of their stories are actually scary... until Mero tells a straight-up horror story about going fishing and catching a severed head, which is drawn in a full-page spread in all its grotesque glory.
    • Another chapter starts off as a parody of an Unwanted Harem anime, claiming to be a new manga by the author. It's mostly goofy fluff reimagining the cast in a High School AU... until the parody does a sudden shift into Zombie Apocalypse horror, punctuated by a panel graphically depicting two zombies feasting on a corpse's entrails. Then it turns out to be All Just a Dream, and the sudden shift is the result of a Dream Stealer eating Naoe's dream and turning it into a nightmare.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
  • Princess Tutu starts off looking like a sugary-sweet, very cute ballet-themed Magical Girl show in a very picturesque town that has Cat instructors, an a Penguin that plays piano - then the crows come, then let's not get into the Finale of Season One or all of Season Two.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The story starts off similarly light-hearted as other Magical Girl series, until the infamous third episode. Mami thinks she's going to achieve an easy win, but gets the shock of her life when Charlotte suddenly reveals her second form, a giant worm with razor-sharp teeth. She bites Mami's head clean off and feasts on her remains right in front of a horrified Madoka and Sayaka.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena, which poses so convincingly as a bog-standard Magical Girl series that the first company to try translating it marketed it as such ... then changed their mind hurriedly at the start of the second season
  • Sailor Moon: The original work was marketed to older teens, unlike the "family friendly" reputation it acquired thanks to the 90s anime adaptation. Naoko Takeuchi indulges in Body Horror at least once an arc: characters' flesh melting off bones (Mamoru in the Dark Kingdom arc, a random little girl in the Black Moon arc, Usagi herself in the Dead Moon arc), horrific human-to-Daimon transformations (Infinity arc), spontaneous combustion, and more. These moments are rare but contrast beautifully with the series' positive themes of love, friendship, hope, and optimism, in order to emphasize the villainous nature of the antagonists.
  • Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai starts off with a thirteen year old girl who befriends her cloudcuckoolander new classmate. It ends with the classmate being killed and dismembered by her abusive dad.
  • School Days starts out as a cute teenage love story about a guy trying to get a girl with help from his friend. When he does finally get her, he does a bad thing, and things spiral out of control as the series gets much darker and depressing and loses all traces of its cheerfulness. This all culminates in the final episode with his girlfriend, having just murdered his own friend in retaliation for murdering him, snuggling his decapitated head.
  • Shadow Star seems at first like a cute little story about a girl and her pet dragon-thingy. Then it starts going horribly wrong...
  • Stardust Telepath: The series started off as a bright and cheerful iyashikei about the odd friendship between an introvert (a shy Elective Mute named Umika) and an extrovert (a self-proclaimed alien who can read minds by pressing foreheads together named Yuu). Even though Cerebus Syndrome made the tone of the storylines more dramatic over the years, it never strayed too far from its Manga Time Kirara sister series like Is the Order a Rabbit? and Laidback Camp. Then comes chapter 42, where Yuu falls into despair about the fact that, due to her amnesia, she might actually be an evil alien who's come to invade the earth. Sick and tired of Umika's unending support and positivity, she clamps her hand over Umika's mouth, shoves her to the ground, and slips into full-on Yandere mode. Straddling Umika in an isolated forest clearing in the dead of night, leering wickedly, Yuu caresses Umika like she's about to molest her and asks what she'd do if Yuu was an evil invader. Fortunately, Umika's tears make Yuu come back to her senses, and she runs away into the forest while Umika calls after her.
  • The Tama & Friends anime adaptation Do You Know my Tama? is a slice of life anime featuring dogs and cats playing together. Although lighthearted in nature, that doesn't mean it doesn't have its creepy moments. For example, there's a Very Special Episode in which a curse is put upon the people of the third district regarding a little girl and her dog Shiro, who tragically ended up being two of the 129,000-226,000 casualties of the bombings. Tama's owner Takeshi has nightmares about her in the Christmas Carol-type first part. The girl's ghost even holds Tama hostage and threatens to kill him.
    • In the episode's second part, Pochi is possessed by a haunted collar, which belonged to Shiro before he and his owner were killed by one of the atomic bombs. Shiro is revealed to be a really terrifying-looking ghost dog once the collar is taken off of Pochi by Takeshi - essentially exhausting the former and causing him not to be able to see it. Thankfully, his ghost owner changes him back to the kind of loving dog he was when he was alive and apologizes for all the trouble they caused.
    • Although this take on one of the events that ended the second world war was much tamer compared to Barefoot Gen - especially being a kids' anime, you can see why 4Kids Entertainment decided to skip the episode when they acquired the series due to it being inspired by such a nightmarish true event. And fittingly enough, the creators of the Tama & Friends franchise, Sony, helped rebuild Japan when they were founded after both the war and the bombings.
  • The Unico manga series by Osamu Tezuka is a children's fantasy series about a baby unicorn who wants to be friends and has the Power of Love and able to spread happiness to others. While the setting and locations is beautifully designed, the villains are terrifying and do some messed up stuff to Unico his friends. The two animated Unico movies by Sanrio Animation dials up the manga's creepy imagery with the second film (Unico in the Island of Magic) containing a much darker storyline compared to the previous film.
  • Wings of Vendemiaire is about charming little living puppets going through horrible, horrible things.

    Comic Books 
  • Ghost Rider is creepier than expected from the Marvel Universe. With a gallery of mostly upbeat superheroes like Iron Man and Captain America, you suddenly come across a leather-wearing, flaming, living skeleton.
  • If you go by (especially early) advertisements and fan descriptions of Loki: Agent of Asgard it's a light-hearted, colorful, fanservicey comic where Loki turns into a unicorn (issue #8) or goes speed dating (issue #2) while trying to earn their redemption. Besides what can possibly be creepy in a comic that opens with a shower scene and a filked song from Wicked? Well, let's take a look at the cover of issue #12. The first surprise creepiness actually comes at the end of issue #1 where the villain is revealed and then the series systematically trolls the readership and slowly but surely spirals downward into the darkness that reaches its "peak" in issues #10-#12 subsequent issues being a rebound but still rife with creepy *cough*legions-of-Hel*cough*.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW). The cartoon has its Darker and Edgier moments, but they're few and far between. The first story arc has Ponyville being invaded by Changelings, the Cutie Mark Crusaders being imprisoned (although this is somewhat Played for Laughs), and genocide of some Ridiculously Cute Critters (yes, really). The second arc features the ponies being Forced to Watch their worst nightmares whenever they fall asleep and Rarity being corrupted by an Eldritch Abomination. If you want cute and funny stories about ponies, you're better off getting the My Little Pony Micro Series.
  • Paperinik New Adventures: Hey look, a comic with Donald Duck as a superhero. Man, this is gonna be so funny... Wait, did those alien vampires just conquer an alien world and transform everybody into zombies? And now they are heading toward Earth?

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Geometry Dash fan levels:
    • Peaceful. At first, there are cute little monsters featured in the background, following your character as it moves along. However, the music will eventually corrupt, and the background will slowly transform into a fleshy landscape full of trypophobia-introducing holes. A little while latter, the background becomes cute again, and the level ends. However, one final scare appears out of nowhere. Unsurprisingly, alongside the ridiculous amounts of lag, this level was never verified. On top of that, the song that the level is set to is MopeMope, mentioned below in the Music folder.
    • ExtoPlasm has too kiD frIEndly, which, in contrast, has a more "slow-burn approach". Even with a couple shifts of tone, the level remains upbeat and jokey at times. It isn't until an entire city gets nuked and you get chased by a faceless version of one of the monsters at the beginning that it would reveal its real dark side. Then, after a rainbow-filled segment in Fluffy Cloud Heaven, it shows some of the monsters dying in various ways (such as accidentally dropping a lighter and setting themself on fire, getting hit by a car, hanging themselves, and getting murdered via an actual monster's tongue). The level continues with this darkly comedic setting, all set to the beat of an epic upbeat tune.
    • MindCap's COLLAB LEVEL is probally the worst. Disguising itself as a rather generic-looking collab level, this level uses many a jumpscare in it. Helps that it's also an April Fool's day joke.
  • Infinity Train: Blossomverse:
    • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail initially starts off with Chloe Cerise heading on a brand new adventure on the Train with a corgi king and a paper book that's dressed up as the Tall, Dark, and Handsome boy of Chloe's dreams (er, nightmares). Then Act 2 and 3 add psychological horror aspects into the mix and Chloe's end goal eventually goes from "finding herself and hoping to stop an evil cult" to, "saving said cult and three other trainers from being sacrificed within the Silent Hill car".
    • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily, the prequel to Blossoming Trail is about Gladion wanting to prove that he's a knight and hope to end the Apex. But not even the fourth car into the story does it change from him valiantly stopping the Apex to delving into nightmares with his group in an atttempt to stop the Apex from killing other denizens and Act 2 has them visit the Silent Hill car...with the events there even darker than what Chloe ever had to face.
  • Luffy Selects the Bees starts out as a Crack Fic, then Luffy is dragged off to a "Bee Room" where he undergoes several tasks. At the end, he decides to be sacrificed to a bee god to avoid undergoing an And I Must Scream fate where he would be turned into a bee and forced to gather pollen and nectar. Plus, the mysterious hooded figure known as the Hooded Beemaster that puts Luffy through all this is revealed to be Tony Tony Chopper.
  • Marie D. Suesse and the Mystery New Pirate Age! starts off like a "Girl falls into One Piece" adventure, until the main character finds themselves alone on the Thousand Sunny with the crew mysteriously gone missing. Then weird things start happening, a disembodied voice starts singing, and the hostile Klabauterman shows up... Things only get darker and creepier from that point on. It's all the more unexpected because based on the first chapter and summary you would have thought the story was just a Parody Sue rant.
  • Moonstuck, aside from the occasional appearance of Dark Woona, is a silly and fun romp across the moon with Woona making lots of friends and things that don't make sense. The final boss fight — and the lead up to it — is shockingly dark and depressing even without comparing it to the rest of the story, with one of the most terrifying portrayals of Discord that the fandom has ever produced.
  • The prologue of Pokémon Rejuvenation starts off quite innocently, with you playing as a little girl in an adorable Slice of Life. Then the cultists appear.
    • The actual game qualifies, too: it starts off with you and your mother on a cruise ship travelling to the Aevium Region (where the game takes place), which is filled with humorous little moments and easter eggs. Then the villainous team, Team Xen, shows up and detonates a bomb on the ship, which causes the boat to sink and most of the people to get captured.
  • The Pony POV Series chapter "Playtime" is mostly lighthearted, focusing on the Mane Cast talking with Princess Gaia as if she were simply Fluttershy and the foals that Ponyville has been turned into just playing around. Then Princess Gaia's facade shatters, revealing her true form, Nightmare Whisper.
  • While a few things about Tokimeki PokéLive! and TwinBee qualify, the most shocking moment for that universe by far is when Sally Acorn reveals that Mobius was destroyed by an invasion of Ultra Beasts! Quite possibly the most Nintendo-ish piece of Mood Whiplash to come from what is otherwise a fun, humorous adaptation of a mobile game based on an anime about idols who promote their school from a company that doesn't have much in the way of dark/edgy franchises!

    Films — Animation 
  • The Adventures of Mark Twain is a funny Claymation movie with lots of bright colors (although even the animation can be fairly creepy), but it takes a very dark turn after the kids encounter The Mysterious Stranger. That segment is so terrifying that it frequently gets cut from TV showings (but on the other hand, it went viral on YouTube, precisely because it's so disturbing).
  • The Brave Little Toaster. Right off the bat we have Air Conditioner raging himself to death, there's the Nightmare Sequence involving a Monster Clown, then they get trapped in a repair shop where the owner dismantles one of them in a scene framed like a horrific murder complete with a "Gore" Discretion Shot and a "corpse" dripping "blood", and then near the end of the film there's a musical number in which anthropomorphic cars are singing about how worthless they are as they are being crushed to death, complete with one committing suicide.
  • The dead from Corpse Bride are anything but scary or even creepy. They're lively, upbeat, and a hell of a lot more fun to be around than the so-called living. Then they find out it was Lord Barkus who murdered Emily and suddenly careen rapidly into horror town, ending with Miss Plumm ominously saying "new arrival" as they literally drag him to hell.
  • Don Bluth films:
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Meet the Robinsons. The first 3/4s of the movie is full of colors, gleeful wackiness and literal bubbles. Then, just after what appears to be a daring rescue, the robot friend gets speared through the chest and dies, the main character's best friend/future son disintegrates into nothingness, the world has plummeted into despotic despair and slavery, and the main character's family, being controlled via electronic hats that cover their faces, starts trying to kill him by beating him off a very high fall. All in the space of about two minutes.
    • Pinocchio is the story of a cute little puppet boy and his journey to become human... which leads to the Pleasure Island subplot, which involves other boys getting lured into a seeming happy-looking place where they can misbehave and do what they want, but then get turned into donkeys and shipped off to work themselves to death. We see a nightmare-inducing sequence where one boy screams and begs for help as he slowly and painfully transforms.
      • Even worse, unlike most Disney villains, the guy who runs Pleasure Island gets off scot-free.
    • Dumbo is a somewhat depressing story of a young elephant who is mocked for the size of his ears, but it's still presented in a cute and lighthearted fashion. Then Dumbo gets drunk and starts to hallucinate, resulting in twisted, bizarre visions of ghost-like apparitions straight from Hell.
      Chase 'em away, chase 'em away! I'm afraid, need your aid, Pink Elephants on Parade...
    • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It's a cute story about Pooh and his friends as they have adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood. Then Pooh falls asleep and we get a Nightmare Sequence with technicolor shapeshifting elephants and weasels.
      • And then there's the scene where Rabbit gets lost in the woods looking for Tigger, and all the woodland creatures' noises start to get to him. As it turns out, this scene was animated by Don Bluth.
      • As if those weren't bad enough, we also have the live-action Pooh doll winking at us out of nowhere at the end of the film.
      • Speaking of Winnie The Pooh, Pooh's Grand Adventure is a textbook example of this, as Pooh and his friends go through a Nightmare Fuel-filled quest that causes each one of their character traits to get completely deconstructed in a heart-wrenching fashion.
    • The Ichabod segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is lighthearted comedy...until the Headless Horseman shows up, at which point everything goes to hell.
    • Brother Bear 2 is much Lighterand Softer than the original Brother Bear movie, but near the end of the movie, during the final battle between Kenai and Atka, Kenai actually bleeds while Atka tries to kill him. What makes this moment very terrifying is the fact that not once do they ever show any blood in the first movie, not even when Kenai kills Koda's mother, leading to his Karmic Transformation.
    • Disney movies, in general, can have this effect on people who have only ever heard of their reputation as family-friendly media.
  • Felidae starts cheerfully with the main feline protagonist, Francis, and his owner moving into a new neighborhood. Then Francis encounters one of the many feline victims of a killing spree occurring throughout the film, has a nightmare involving marionettes made of cat corpses, and the Big Bad gets his stomach cut open with his entrails falling out.
  • Rango starts out as a fairly light-hearted Western for kids, with only a few sinister villains to occasionally darken the skies. Then Rattlesnake Jake shows up, a surprisingly intense and threatening villain for this kind of movie.
  • Sausage Party is, for most of its runtime, an Animated Shock Comedy that doesn't take itself all that seriously, even with its premise of anthropomorphic foods trying to avoid being eaten. Then there's the kitchen massacre scene, a barrage of Cruel and Unusual Deaths that turns off the comedy and has been compared to the Eclipse for a very good reason.
  • Turning Red is for the most part a cute and sweet film, coming prepackaged with an emotionally touching story about growing up and dealing with change so its Nightmare Sequence is particularly surprising.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • When unhappy or unpleasant truths intrude on the relatively peaceful lives of characters in the Aunt Dimity Cozy Mystery series, they often do so in this way. Open a box expecting to see maybe an heirloom—find fully dressed human remains. Heave a sigh of relief that the "murder" turns out to have been an accident—well, that's jolly nice, but your hero has just had a flashback to a real murder he witnessed and is near catatonic. Similar mood dynamics occur when solutions are given and the culprit turns out to be obsessed and/or insane.
  • The fantasy novel series Fablehaven. Despite its bright and cheerful kid-aimed covers, it gets smacked upside the head by our friend Cerebus remarkably quickly. Each book is darker than the last, but the covers remain cute and inviting. A recent reprint has rectified this with darker, more action-oriented covers that better fit the contents.
  • The Harry Potter books certainly have their share, particularly before J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and abandoned all pretense of Harry Potter being a whimsical children's series. The first book had a huge three-headed Hell Hound and a man with a second face on the back of his head (and, as the author herself noted, opened with a double murder but is still considered a kids' book). The second book introduced giant spiders, blood graffiti, a possessed diary, and a fifty-foot death snake that can kill you with a glance. The third book had Harry being hunted by an escaped convict believed to be a deranged mass murderer, who is, in turn, being pursued by even worse soul-sucking Eldritch Abominations.
  • The Land of Oz books can have this effect on people only familiar with the Lighter and Softer adaptations. This is a big part of why Return to Oz (see the Film section above) was so freaky — it was more in tune with the original Oz books than the 1939 adaptation was. For example, Glinda of Oz discusses how people can't die in Oz, but only after mentioning various terrible things that can occur to Dorothy (for example, she can be beheaded or chopped up and scattered, but it won't hurt and she won't die).
  • There is an old nonfiction children's book called Model a Monster. The first three-quarters or so teach children how to create adorable balsa-wood and papier-mache models of prehistoric animals. Things very suddenly take a turn for the deeply strange in the last quarter...
  • Olivia Kidney has a title protagonist who appears on the cover as an adorable, cartoony little girl. She talks to ghosts all the time, including her beloved dead brother. There's the ever-present implication that everything that's happening might just be a product of an extremely overactive imagination. Or maybe it's all real. They never really let you know for sure, and it's not clear which would actually be worse.
  • Henrik Drescher's book Pat the Beastie ended with Paul and Judy being eaten by the titular Beastie.
  • Redwall starts out seeming like a sweet little Low Fantasy series about cute fuzzy animals in a pretty woodland setting. Then some pretty damn horrifying things happen to them. It says quite a bit about this children's series that it was the first work of literature to get its own Complete Monster page.
  • Roald Dahl was one of the great masters at this in his stories/novels for both adults and kids — but especially the kids' stuff. Consider Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The first third of the book is a light story about a mysterious candy factory and the mostly wacky, grotesquely bratty kids who get the chance to visit it...and the remaining two-thirds reveal it to be a setup for a morality play in which said brats meet a variety of dreadful fates — getting sucked into pipes, thrown down rubbish chutes, etc. And it's Played for Laughs, with the Wonka Factory effectively a positive portrayal of a Crapsaccharine World. A Black Comedy for kids was virtually unheard of in 1964, and the book was controversial for years afterward, with Moral Guardians appalled by its cavalier attitude towards children getting imperiled.
  • Tailchaser's Song starts off as a fantasy story about a kitten who must go on an adventure to find his missing love and find out why cats are disappearing. The first several chapters are normal fantasy fare but then Roofshadow mentions something sinister about the disappearances: many cats do disappear, but others are found torn apart instead. Roofshadow lost her entire clan this way (with Roofshadow only surviving because she went for a walk). The main antagonists, the Clawguard, aren't introduced until halfway through. Prior to that, all we know is that the mysterious killers lurk in the shadows and attack at random. When the Clawguard do capture Tailchaser and his friends, they beat them up, drag them underground to their master Hearteater, and force Tailchaser into slavery.
  • Dr. Seuss peppered his children's books with surprisingly dark imagery from time to time. For example, Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, which ends in Thidwick's unwanted guests being killed and taxidermized.
  • Varjak Paw is about a kitten named Varjak who must venture outside his house to find a dog and save his family. While out, he learns that there are a string of disappearances involving stray cats around the city. The creepy part comes in when it's revealed that someone is killing cats, turning them into taxidermy, and selling them to unwitting people as "realistic toys".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who is a wacky Science Fiction show that largely runs on camp and Narm Charm (particularly in respect to the often laughable special effects).
    • A lot of the episodes are pretty lighthearted to boot. That said, the show has been known to take abrupt turns for the extremely dark and disturbing. Remember, the Daleks were envisioned as Nazi analogues, and several stories have a body count ranging from most to the entire cast. The new series also gives us the Doctor dealing with destroying his own people (which does get reversed later, but he didn't know that at the time), monsters based on childhood fears, and the Series 9 three-part finale, in which the Doctor is put through a Trauma Conga Line.
    • After watching the episode "Blink", you'll have PTSD attacks around statues and won't be sleeping with the lights out anytime soon. It may also result in stained pants. It's no wonder that the episode was originally broadcast with a warning stating that it is far scarier than other episodes in the season and parent supervision is advised if children are watching.
  • Journey to the West (1996) is a mostly lighthearted fantasy series, save for one moment in the first season that looks more like something out of a horror film. Si-si discovers her lover, Yu-shu, to be a villainous centipede demon when she randonly wanders out of Yu-shu's chambers only to discover the whole place to be littered with bones of Yu-shu's precious victims, the hall has Nothing but Skulls, and Yu-shu is in the middle of absorbing the chi of his latest victim. The Scare Chord and creepy background music that plays when Si-si tries running only to trip over a decaying skull who then fills up the screen doesn't help.
  • Kamen Rider Wizard is fairly average in terms of seriousness as far as the Kamen Rider franchise is concerned, still dealing with monsters that want to kill innocent civilians but featuring plenty of light-hearted comedy to keep it from getting too dark. And then late in the series, we're told that Sora/Gremlin, the Phantom who had spent most of his screentime being goofy, quirky and mysterious, was a Serial Killer who murdered countless young women before he ever became a Phantom. Is it any wonder he ends up becoming the Final Boss?
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus was whimsical for the most part but could turn really creepy at times, in no small part due to the Deranged Animation and occasional Surreal Horror.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures is the Lighter and Softer spin-off of Doctor Who. That does not stop it from being loaded with teenage anxieties, and the possibility of losing your child comes up a lot. And then there's any story featuring the Trickster, which would not look out of place in the parent show.
  • Sesame Street is often notorious for featuring segments that would creep out younger viewers, especially during the classic era. One minute, the show would be teaching children the alphabet and numbers and the next minute, you have some disturbing imagery and moments throughout some segments such as the infamous roaring dandelion from the Daddy Dear segment and the Deranged Animation in the animated Bird segment.

  • The Beatles are mostly known for silly love songs in the early pop days and for cerebral experimental music after Going Cosmic. But then you have Surreal Horror in tracks like "Revolution 9," and a disturbing portrayal of a Crazy Jealous Guy in "Run For Your Life."
  • Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" features upbeat music and some neat dancing in a strangely bleak room with a moving floor. Near the end of the song, the camera suddenly pans down to blood gushing in from an unseen portion of the room, and pans up to show even more blood covering the floor which the singer himself pays absolutely no attention to while he keeps dancing.
  • "MopeMope" by LeaF and Optie, starts off sounding like a cute children's jingle, before occasionally "glitching out" and turning into a hellish droning sound, before dropping the saccharine facade entirely and turning into a hardcore arrangement of itself. All while the music video features cute dancing flowers and spherical hopping creatures...that turn into horrible abominations who have creepy grins instead of faces. Not to mention the sudden rapid arpeggio that comes out of nowhere... Because of that, many music arcades that feature this song as a playable stage (most famously "Pump It Up") had to censor the aforementioned segment due to how creepy it was.
    • Want more chilling facts? THIS song is the inspiration for Geometry Dash's infamous stage called "Peaceful" (as shown as the page image of Disguised Horror Story). Similar to the MV mentioned before, it started of pretty innocent, with cute monster-like creatures accompanying the stage...until the screen glitches and creepy bloodshot faces were shown, and cue epileptic flashes and horrific fleshy abominations dancing around brutally! And let's just say that the music fits a little too well to this stage.
  • Part 1 of the Putin-P series using Vocaloid appears to introduce the story as light, slightly odd pop songs about Rin and Len's romance and her jealousy of Miku's prominence. The ending of track 1, a song about her wanting to be with Len, features her babbling dementedly over and over again, "Don't leave me alone", and track 2 features, at the end of her song where she sings with children, Red Rin repeatedly saying "I hate children". Things only get darker from there.
  • The music of "Weird Al" Yankovic can go from lighthearted lyrics to morbid Black Comedy and back faster than you can say Lyrical Dissonance. One of the best examples is "Good Old Days," a gentle James Taylor-esque guitar song where the narrator reminisces about his childhood... which happens to include torturing animals, burning down a corner store and beating up its owner, and (possibly) murdering his prom date.
    • The music video for “Don’t Download This Song” features the main character being sent to the electric chair. While “The Night Santa Went Crazy” and “Nature Trail To Hell” are played straight with more cartoony violence, this comes unexpectedly. Seriously, who gets put on death row for song piracy?!
    • Fat’s music video might come across as Body Horror for some.
    • “Headline News” features a line about a man’s penis being cut off.
    • "That's Your Horoscope For Today" has this couplet:
      All your friends are laughing at you behind your back.
      music stops
  • Busta Rhymes's E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front's intro has a father tell his daughter what 2000 will be like and...let's just say it does not end well.
    Daughter: Daddy, what's it gonna be like in the year 2000?
    Daddy: Well sweetheart, for your sake I hope it'll all be peaches & cream.
    But I'm afraid the end time is near
    The cataclysmic apocalypse referred to in the scriptures of every holy book known to mankind
    It will be an Era fraught with boundless greed & corruption
    Where global monetary systems disintegrate, leaving brother to kill brother for a grain of overcooked rice
    The nations of the civilized world will collapse under the impressive weight of parasitic political conspiracies which remove all hope & optimism from their once faithful citizens
    Around the globe, generations of polluters will be punished for their sins
    Un-shielded by the ozone layer they have successfully depleted
    Left to bake in the searing naked rays of light
    Wholesale assassinations served to destabilize every remaining government
    Leaving the starving & wicked to fend for themselves
    Bloodthirsty renegade cyborgs created by tax-dodging corporations wreck havok
    Pissed off androids tired of being slaves to a godless & gutless system, where the rich get richer & the poor get fucked over and out
    Unleash total worldwide destruction by means of nuclear holocaust
    Annihilating the terrified masses
    Leaving in its torturous wake nothing but vicious, cannibalistic, mutated, radiating, and horribly disfigured hordes of satanic killers
    Begged on revenge, but against whom?
    There are so few left alive
    Starvation reigns supreme, forcing unlucky survivors to eat anything & anyone in their path
    Massive earthquakes crack the planets crust like a hollow eggshell
    Causing unending volcanic eruptions
    The creatures of the seven seas, unable to escape the certain death upon land, boil in their liquid prison
    Disease then circles the earth, plagues & viruses with no known cause or cure
    Laying waste to whatever draws breath, and human-kind having proven itself to be nothing more than a race of ruthless scavengers
    Fall victim to merciless attacks at the hands of interplanetary alien tribes who seek to conquer our charred remains
    This is, Extinction Level Event
    The Final World Front, and there is only, one, year, left
    Daughter: Wow, that's cool, I can't hardly wait!
    Daddy: You don't have to, because here it is.

  • Even when the show did horror back in the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town, it was mostly played for laughs. In the Cool Kids Table game Bloody Mooney, Alan spares no detail when describing the half-eaten corpse of Keri's mother, and Mooney happily jumping over to eat more of her.
  • When Myths and Legends covered The Boy Who Drew Cats, it starts off as a silly story that's Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but then the protagonist is almost killed by a rat demon and only saved by his cat drawings coming to life and eating said demon. Jason doesn't hesitate to lampshade this.

  • The Broadway version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is possibly an even stronger example of this trope than the original novel, simply because the first half of the first act (dealing with Charlie and his family) is so sweet and everything that comes next, involving the wicked kids, is exaggerated. The children and their parents are quite unsettling in how extreme their personality defects are, and their punishments in the factory have much less ambiguity than in other depictions. For instance, Violet simply keeps inflating until she violently explodes into mush, while Veruca is literally torn to pieces. By comparison, the original West End version of the show had a much more consistent, blackly comic tone.
  • Pippin: The songs, the poster, even the characters will try and convince you this is a musical comedy "coming of age" tale. It's not.

    Theme Parks 
  • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disney Theme Parks (now only in California) is made of this. What's billed as a simple fairground-like kids ride ends with Mr. Toad being sentenced for his recklessness by a mean-looking judge, having an implied fateful run-in with a train, and taking riders with him to his fate in the depths of Hell. Fire and brimstone are all around, cartoon demons jeer at the riders, and the room gets a little bit hotter. All while jaunty music plays! Not to mention the fact that hell is the last room. Mr. Toad drags his audience to hell with him and that's the ending!
  • The Disneyland Railroad is just a slow-moving transportation ride around the circumference of Disneyland Park with a few stations along the way—not something that would seem too dramatic. However, at least one part near New Orleans Square involves travelling through a dark tunnel with mysterious eyes poking out, and the stretch between Tomorrowland and Main Street features a Prehistoric world diorama (actually from the 1964-65 World's Fair) inspired by a scene of Fantasia. In it, a T. rex and Stegosaurus stand locked in vicious battle while other dinosaurs face imminent death at the hands of drought and disaster. Really, Disney parks can do this trope in their sleep.
  • Tokyo Disneyland had the innocently named Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour, seems to be an easygoing tour of the iconic Cinderella Castle. Instead, guests dive through the castle's dark dungeons where Disney villains reign, filled with skeletons, dragons, swinging axes, and the Magic Mirror taunting you along the way. It leads to a climactic encounter with the skeletal Horned King, who proclaims he'll sacrifice the guests to Satan's cauldron to add to his army of the dead. Oh, and the whole thing was advertised as a rank D ride, note  leading unwitting guests to believe it's as thrilling as the Country Bear Theater.
  • The Noah's Ark at Kennywood looks like a friendly ride on the outside but on the inside, it has things like a loud elevator, flashing monkey faces, and it makes you think you're going to drown at the end.

  • The Evil Stick. It looks like a typical pink plastic children's wand, but it emits an evil, cackling laugh when waved. As if that wasn't enough, when the silver reflective card is removed, it reveals a hidden image of a demonic child slashing her wrists.
  • Feisty Pets are plush animals that look cute and sorrow at first, but when you squeeze them, their faces become angry and reveal Evil Fangs.
  • Before the Feisty Pets, there was the Were Bears, adorable, colorful Care Bear-esque teddy bears that if you flipped their faces and paws inside out would become werewolves. Even the introductory story tape is like this, starting with the bears' In-Universe creator making the bears only to turn into a werewolf. However, the story mellows down the creepiness as the creator still retains his sapience as a wolf, though it goes into silly-creepy factor when it turns out he somehow passed the curse to the bears, which is why they transform in the first place.

    Video Games — Nintendo 
Nintendo and their development teams may well be the reigning champions of this trope. They have a family-friendly image, but quite a few of their games are clearly intended for brave kids.
  • Hresvelgr from Boktai 3: Sabata's Counterattack basically looks like a Pac-Man ghost in a top hat. Then he unfurls his wings and shows what he looks like underneath: a maw filled with teeth and a single eagle's talon.
  • In Donkey Kong Country, the infamous Game Over screen can come across as this. You're enjoying an upbeat, lighthearted game, only to lose your last life and get a depressing image of Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong beat up over a black background. The music sounds depressing, too.
  • EarthBound (1994). 99% Cartoon-y goofiness, 1% incomprehensible cosmic horror. And it's the last 1%, too, especially because of the final boss. You spend most of the game guiding a few adorable kids around a pastiche Eagleland fighting cartoonish monsters with bats, frying pans and rolling pins. At the end of the game, the kids' souls are transplanted into the bodies of robots and they're fighting for their lives against a near incomprehensible creature made of pure hate and insanity who takes the form of a spectral hurricane with a demented screaming face in the center. This abomination, called Giygas, babbles incoherently while whacking them with incredibly powerful psychic attacks that are impossible to grasp the true form of. Worth pointing out the developer of the game, Shigesato Itoi, based Giygas' terrifying visage on an experience he had as a child - he unknowingly walked in on an adult film at the cinema and misinterpreted a sex scene turned murder as a rape scene.
    • While not as egregious, Earthbound Beginnings has some disturbing areas, such as the graveyard visited early in the game and the bleak and extremely difficult Mt. Itoi. The final boss sequence is also fairly disturbing, featuring the sudden appearance of a massive alien starship and the jarring ambient noise (rather than proper music)
    • Mother 3 starts lightly, much like the other two, but the horror kicks in much earlier and persists throughout the game. New Pork City and anything to do with Porky is especially disturbing.
  • Endless Ocean starts off as a fun little semi-educational game where you swim around the ocean and look at and pet all kinds of fish. Then you start swimming in the deep parts of the ocean and encountering all the types of realistically detailed creatures that live down there. It's a bit surprising to go from swimming around a coral reef petting clownfish to swimming around a dark trench and running into a giant squid. In the sequel the last part of the story involves your fellow divers disappearing and when you find them being attacked by a giant deformed shark.
  • The Wii U-exclusive Game & Wario is a collection of fun, lighthearted minigames based around characters from the WarioWare series. One of the minigames, "Gamer", involves 9-Volt secretly playing WarioWare microgames whilst in bed. 9-Volt's mother 5-Volt occasionally checks in on him, and he must hide from the mother while simultaneously playing the game. At first glance, the game is not all that creepy, especially during the tutorial, and the mom is kinda cute looking. But the actual game has the mother check in on 9-Volt in several very creepy ways, including popping out of the television (with ominous static immediately beforehand) and sneaking past the bedroom window with a creepy, dissonant rising strings theme playing as she walks past. The mother may or may not open the window, adding to the tension. She also takes on an eerie shadowy look with glowing eyes, and will change into a demented-looking demon if she catches you. This all happens while the WarioWare microgames are playing on the Gamepad, adding dissonance to the situation.
  • Kirby:
    • The games feature cute characters, a cheerful eponymous protagonist, colorful and fanciful levels, and lots of frightening final bosses. One of them is actually named Nightmare, and he's not even the scariest by a long shot! Perhaps most infamous among them are Marx Soul, especially his death sequence, and 0, mostly for his Clipped-Wing Angel transformation which involves gouging its own eye out with blood spilling all over. Kirby 64 continues the tradition; while Dark Matter and especially the possession scenes are at least unsettling, they still don't provide any good warning for the jarring final boss. Then there's Necrodeus, whose name literally means death god. It took Kirby's Return to Dream Land to finally jack up the age rating to E10+, and the games mentioned earlier only got an E10+ rating when Kirby's Dream Collection was announced. For reference, that's over a decade since their original releases.
    • The pause screens during the boss battles against the main villains and final bosses of Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot, especially in the New Game Plus. There you learn the story of Queen Sectonia going from a fair ruler to a tyrant because of her quest for beauty and eventually losing herself to the point killing her is a Mercy Kill. Then there's President Haltmann, who lost his daughter, wants nothing more than to see her again and ends up getting his soul destroyed when his super computer gains sentience and decides to take over.
    • Star Allies ups the ante even further. At first glance, a colorful and absolutely gorgeous game about Kirby running around making friends by throwing pink hearts at them would seem to conflict with the game's E10+ rating whose only justification is "Cartoon Violence." And then you reach the end of the game and the actual probable reason for that rating: first, a completely insane cult leader who uses his female generals as bludgeons during his boss fight, then sacrifices them and himself to revive a god of destruction to wipe out the universe. Said god resembles Sachiel and has a phase which involves tearing open its heart, complete with blood dripping from the ceiling, culminating into a fight against its essence: a Kirby-like soul. The worst part is that the game implies that this thing and Kirby himself are connected somehow, which is only further compounded in The Ultimate Choice, where defeating an even harder version of it unlocks Kirby's original design from the first game.
    • Kirby and the Forgotten Land serves up a massive plate of whiplash for the final few stages of the main story. After the blood-pumping battle with Forgo Dedede, you're treated to an unsettlingly pleasant exposition dump that details what happened to the previous residents of the New World. Following that, you meet ID-F86, AKA Fecto Forgo, a strange, fetus-like creature in a containment unit. In front of it is the Beast Pack's leader, Leongar, who plans to merge Forgo with a captive Elfilin and restore it to full power. After the subsequent boss battle and Elfilin's liberation, Fecto Forgo speaks through Leongar to go on a Motive Rant. And then? "EVERYTHING. SHALL BE. CONSUMED." Forgo promptly escapes their confinement and takes on the form of an obscene amorphous blob by absorbing several members of the Beast Pack. The ensuing boss fight features Forgo as a harrowing Advancing Boss of Doom. And then Forgo successfully absorbs poor Elfilin to become the real Final Boss, Fecto Elfilis.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Primarily E-rated games. E-rated games that include, among other things, a temple dedicated to death, zombies that are trying to kill the protagonist, and the apocalypse. Probably the two most blatant examples are Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. The ESRB seems to have caught on by the time of Twilight Princess, but even so its T rating was probably just because of the darker graphical style, since Skyward Sword has an E10+ rating despite not being too much more lighthearted.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is bright, cartoony and disarming, but culminates in Link stabbing Ganondorf in the brain. When you consider how incredibly dark the backstory of this game is, it suddenly seems like the game's happy atmosphere was taunting the past and the people of ancient Hyrule, much like how the happy music in Clock Town seemed to taunt the people who stayed oblivious to their impending doom, only more subtle. This is all after the Earth Temple, which is full of Redeads, Floor- and Wallmasters, spooky fog, and a weird-looking sun/moon face statue.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has its moments too, most notably in the Ancient Cistern. At first, it seems a bright and pleasant place with lots of clear water and green and gold scenery. And then you descend into the lower parts... Which culminates in Link climbing a rope to escape only to find that a horde of zombies is also climbing that same rope... and then you learn that to continue, you have to go back down that same rope.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild features a nice, happy looking world but it is actually a post apocalyptic world resulting from Link and his allies failing to stop Ganon 100 years earlier. Ganon - called Calamity Ganon here — is also an Eldritch Abomination and this Zelda is one of the most tragic incarnations.
  • Magical Starsign is saccharine and kid-friendly through-and-through until Semolina commits suicide through a carnivorous flower before you get a chance to protest, and becomes one of your Cosmic Keystones. And then Sorbet, one of your own party members, admits that if Semolna hadn't done it first, she would have done so herself. Later, you get to learn the fate of Applepie, and/or every human in the universe once the robots start to run out of fuel: robots turn humans into "gummies", their battery cores. And that's ignoring the star-devouring abomination that is the Final Boss...
  • Pikmin: More E-rated goodness that involves sending adorable little carrot-creatures to near-certain doom against beasts many times their size on a planet that — Word of God states — is Earth 250 million years in the future. In the first game, Olimar does this to survive. In the second, it's all about getting treasure. And in the third, it's to prevent an Apocalypse How. Some of the more bizarre enemies in the game include a frog-shaped embodiment of poison, the moaning intangible Eldritch Abomination known as the Waterwraith, and the immortal shape-shifting monstrosity that is the Plasm Wraith. Olimar actually does wonder:
    Would this have been a peaceful planet had I never come? No... surely the Pikmin lived like this before my arrival. They MUST have.
  • The mainline Pokémon games themselves have started to get in on the fun, especially with the creepier Pokedex entries - see entries like Yamask and Shedinja's just for starters. Then there's Pokémon Black and White... would you like a nice cup of horrific psychological abuse of a child with your cute monster battling?
    • Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum has pretty creepy moments as well. In all three games, there are fun adventures, cute friendly monsters, and an evil cult that wants to destroy all of existence so their leader can reshape the world in his image and become God. Oh, and did we mention that Platinum contains an extra segment in the main storyline where you end up in a parallel universe and face off against a massive Eldritch Abomination of a dragon?
    • In Pokémon Colosseum, the main villainous team plans to turn Pokémon into fighting machines via Mind Rape and has essentially taken over two of the region's towns, coming surprisingly close to achieving their goals.
    • In comparison to Pokémon Colosseum, Pokemon XD starts off much Lighter and Softer. Then we find out that Cipher abducted a ship and we still don't know where the crew went...
    • Also from Pokemon XD is your first trip to Phenac City, which was a location in Colosseum. Already strange is the fact that an NPC refuses to let you enter until you go waste some time at Realgam Tower, but once you come back it initially looks like the exact same city as the first game. Then NPCs start saying very strange things to you, the shop is randomly closed for a "holiday", and when you try to warn Justy of the upcoming Cipher attack like you were sent to do, he laughs and asks if you haven't just dreamed this up. All the while, the background music starts getting more and more distorted...
    • Pokémon Red and Blue's Lavender Town. Between the background music being more unnerving than it should be possible for any 8-bit song to be and the sudden revelation that Pokemon can actually die, there's the entire origin story of Cubone/Marowak and its/their skull-helmet thing. Not to mention the Cinnabar lab and the vague bits of Mewtwo's backstory we learn there.
    • Pokémon X and Y brings us to the Kalos region, a lovely region where great emphasis is placed on beauty and harmony. Then we find out about the various wars that took place there and one of those wars was ended with a giant superweapon because its creator went mad with grief. Oh, and the evil team wants to use that ancient superweapon to effectively nuke the entire country.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon takes things even further. Not even counting how downright gruesome and unnerving Pokedex entries have becomenote , the game's plot brings up a number of deconstructive moments that reveal just how harsh the Pokemon world can be and the main story ends with the player character and Lillie entering another dimension in order to coax Lillie's mother, Lusamine, back home, only for the woman to completely merge with one of the Ultra Beasts that inhabit that universe. The postgame features you helping the International Police to stop the Ultra Beasts. It is explicitly stated at one point that the police are using you as bait and one of the Ultra Beasts is mentioned to have actually killed someone.
    • Pokémon Legends: Arceus has the mood change anytime you're in the territory of an Alpha Pokémon. Whatever background music will fade away, a distinct "click" sound effect plays, and a tense, foreboding song begins. Alpha Pokémon are physically much larger than normal Pokémon of their species, have glowing red eyes that seem to glow brighter when the game is paused, have a shockwave attack that will knock you down as they come lunging at you, and are dozens of levels higher than the other wild Pokémon in the area and likely also your Pokémon. Various NPCs advise you not to battle, but run, if you're caught in a fight with them. Alpha Pokémon will also chase you across the whole area, and if you're unfortunate, may even provoke another Alpha Pokémon to give chase if you accidentally enter their territory too. This is not to mention later in the story, when observers of the Space-Time Distortion above Mt. Coronet report seeing an unusual Pokémon inside of that vortex. The Space-Time Distortion soon spreads across all of Hisui, giving it an Alien Sky and putting the entire region on emergency alert.
  • The mobile spinoff Pokémon: Magikarp Jump appears to be a simple, lighthearted virtual pet thing where you train a Magikarp's jumping ability until it can perform in the local Olympics. Once it reaches the level cap it'll retire peacefully whether or not it managed to win its last tournament run. The problem, though, is there are events that cause the permanent loss of your current fish. The first one you're likely to see already involves a Pidgeotto swooping in from out of nowhere and taking it as prey. Even if it is Played for Laughs due to the character's Butt-Monkey nature, it's hard to see the game the same way after it happens once.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon:
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team was already pretty creepy, like when all your friends suddenly turn on you and chase you for what seems to be days, clearly intent on killing you. And then there's the tale of Gardevoir's past...
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers starts out with cute little monsters, in particular, the nervous partner character, learning how to be good explorers. Starts getting a little uncomfortable when a child is abducted by a criminal, gets out and out distressing when you get dragged into the future, and the game really doesn't let up on the creepy for the rest of the story. You and your partner are encouraged to commit suicide at one point! Yep, E-rated.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity certainly seems cheery at first, starring two Pokémon adventuring together and trying to make a home for themselves while exploring an uncaring world, and the whole thing is drenched in The Power of Friendship. Eventually, one of your allies is brutally murdered and you are beaten nearly to death, the Quirky Miniboss Squad is revealed to be a suicide cult, and the world is threatened by an Eldritch Abomination made of despair, hopelessness, and bitterness.
    • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon starts off with the hero and partner going to school together, and setting out to become members of the Expedition Society, but takes a slight turn for the dark when it's revealed Pokemon have been mysteriously turning to stone. You eventually learn the truth behind the petrified Pokemon; that their life force was sucked out by the thralls of an Eldritch Abomination, and to make things worse, that while in this state, their consciousness ends up in a twisted, hellish realm known as the Voidlands, where they're tormented by the otherworldly Void Shadows and shades of Pokemon manifested from dark emotions. The hero, their friends, and much of the world's populace fall victim before all is said and done, with the implication that they could've been trapped there forever had the aforementioned Eldritch Abomination succeeded in destroying the world.
  • Splatoon:
    • The series originally revealed via the final Sunken Scrolls in the first game to be distantly post-apocalyptic, set long after global warming and the rising sea levels ended the human race. The games would go on to treat this a fun factoid, leading to moments where you're watching the hosts do their usual banter until one of them says:
      Pearl: I went digging in my backyard earlier today, and I found some old bones!
      Marina: Human bones, huh? Yeah, those things are everywhere.
    • Splatoon 2 introduces Salmon Run, starring the Salmonids: essentially barbarian hordes trying to overrun (and possibly eat) the Inklings. And that's not even getting into the fact that the Sunken Scrolls in this game include a passage from an Inkling religious text that states salmon swarms are harbingers of the apocalypse. Granted, dealing with them is viewed by the Inklings as a nice, if sketchy, part-time job for teenagers, but still.
    • Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion is a bit Darker and Edgier to begin with, but still quite silly. At least until the player character almost gets pureed in a blender and narrowly saves all life on Earth from being wiped out. Oh, and it's heavily implied that the player character is the first one to avoid getting blended. The player character is also the 10,008th individual to get to that point. It's also revealed that the Octo Expansion enemies, called "sanitized" Octarians, have been "disinfected" of free will and independent thought. They have no pulse or higher brain functions, being controlled like robots. However, it's hinted that something of their old mind is still present and may eventually reawaken; the expansions music is in-universe written by dedf1sh, a sanitized Octoling who nonetheless continues producing music despite being brainwashed.
  • Star Fox has, if one hasn't been spoiled yet, nothing to foreshadow that the evil emperor/mad scientist you fight will be taking the form of an Eldritch Abomination, either a giant mask that turns into a cube filled with his visage, or a giant head that eventually turns into a spaceship-sized brain with two eyes. And those things were fought in what appears to be an Eldritch Location or vortex.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Most of Super Mario 64 is a cheerful game set in brightly colored fields and mountains filled with goofy creatures and upbeat music. Then you get to Big Boo's Haunt—a drab, gloomy mansion in the middle of a dark forest, soundtracked by a Drone of Dread, where disembodied voices taunt you as you explore, trap doors dunk you into a mazelike basement with a haunted carousel providing Creepy Circus Music, a fanged piano can try to bite you in half, and secret rooms contain giant staring eyeballs. Only the silly-looking Boo enemies and limited graphics really keep it out of outright horror territory. It's arguably the Trope Codifier for surprisingly creepy levels in video games, and undoubtedly inspired several other examples on this page.
    • Mario gives Link a run for his money throughout the Paper Mario games, which end up a lot like Earthbound with the subject of murder (though he was actually just unconscious) dealt with in the first game; an Eldritch Abomination appearing as the final boss of the second; and the third's plot being explicitly that reality itself was being destroyed, later revealed that this includes The Afterlife.
      • Paper Mario: The Origami King, the sixth Paper Mario game, takes it up to a new level. Don't be fooled by the goofy-looking origami enemies and the villain, King Olly, looking and acting like an immature angsty teenager—said villain is a Reality Warper fond of inflicting Body Horror by forcibly and painfully folding up the paper characters, which is not Played for Laughs. Pretty early into the game, Mario starts finding Paper Macho enemies, large-sized papier-maché versions of enemies with empty holes for eyes and a stop-motion movement that looks uncannily out of place in the setting. It goes even further late into the game when Mario enters Bowser's Castle and sees what King Olly has done to it: Bowser's Castle has always been dark and foreboding, but it never had Slender Man analogues peeling themselves off the walls, a giant Buzzy Beetle made up of the still-living mutilated fragments of Bowser's minions, or the giant sentient pair of scissors that created said Buzzy Beetle monstrosity and whose every attack is a One-Hit Kill.
    • Super Mario Galaxy is hours of compressed sheer joy — and then the universe is annihilated in a super massive black hole.
    • The Mario & Luigi series takes an abrupt dark turn in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. The whole plot is about a near genocidal Alien Invasion of the kingdom, with the captured Toads subjected to a fate worse than death and some of the most spectacular examples of Scenery Gorn in an E rated game. In fact, Mario screams very often during the cutscenes, and you can't really blame him.
    • Super Mario Odyssey is a light-hearted romp through the world that includes dinosaurs, a giant garden, and a super jazzy New York stand-in. Then you end up on a ruined medieval fantasy world and fight a hyper-realistic dragon, all looking like they wandered in from Dark Souls. This is despite the fact that the first area is a literal ghost town where you meet your spectral side-kick, which actually is rather pleasant and inviting if monochrome. Earlier in the game, there is also the Deep Woods, a dimly lit forest below the main area in the Wooded Kingdom. Wherever Mario goes, the ground always rumbles rhythmically. This is because there is a Terrifying Tyrannosaur patrolling the area, and it will give chase to Mario as fast as its big legs can take it if it ever spots him, requiring Mario to always remain out of the monster's sights. Fittingly, Mario is always shivering in fear whenever he's idle.
  • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U decides to go this route with its True Final Boss, having the shapeshifting Eldritch Abomination known as Master Core burst out from within the regular boss Master Hand. Made even creepier with the addition of its Master Fortress form in the Wii U version, which is a disturbingly organic platforming level that must be entered and destroyed by eliminating a series of pulsating red growths within.
  • Wario Land 4 features a shockingly large number of these types of moments, especially during its boss fights. Also, don't even get us started on some of its songs, such as Hurry Up and Yesterday's Words.
  • Yoshi's Island:
    • In Yoshi's Woolly World, the whole plot of the game is that after Kamek forcibly transforms all Yoshis on Yoshi's Island into living wool, basically kidnapping and disassembling them, forcing the survivors to rescue them. And why did he do this? So he can weave their still-living "flesh" together to form a super-comfy kid-friendly castle for Baby Bowser. Yes, the plot of a Nintendo game involves magically mutating an entire race to build a new house from their bodies for the Big Bad.
    • Yoshi's Crafted World meets the quota of the dino's series being cheerful, colorful, all-around happy games. Then, after the Cheery Valley world, you head over to Shadowville, play the first level, and proceed to be chased by several slasher-like Creepy Dolls brandishing huge axes that emit hellish screams whenever they see Yoshi. Even the hint-giving Message Boxes have been given a foreboding upgrade:
      If he
      sees you,

    Video Games — Other 
  • 40 Winks was intended to be a pseudo-nightmare played in a way that was positively adorable. Even though the "scary" aspects of the game were mild, the completely innocuous music and eerie simlish were complete Nightmare Fuel.
  • ANNO: Mutationem starts out as a Post-Cyberpunk action-adventure in a futuristic metropolis. At a pivotal moment, Ann loses consciousness and awakens in a Eldritch Location that's immersed in a bloody landscape with Creepy Crosses around and ominous silence. After reaching the center, Ann comes across a Humanoid Abomination that immediately proceeds to temporarily use her body as a Superpowered Evil Side.
  • Aquaria follows a similar premise as Ecco, only this time the protagonist is a fish girl. She finds herself utterly alone and starts to explore the ruined civilizations, and eventually meets their crazy gods and the Big Bad who made them. And yes, just like in Ecco, there are Womb Levels in Aquaria.
  • Boxxy Quest:
    • BoxxyQuest: The Shifted Spires is a pretty lighthearted meme game overall, but one secret area in Skype is noticeably creepier than the rest of the game. In Skype, you can come across an abandoned house in bad shape, and entering it and going down into the basement leads to a creepy hallway with ominous music leading to a red door that asks you in a chilling voice "what is the color of light?", all in a big Shout-Out to the Dark Brotherhood of The Elder Scrolls.
    • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm initially looks to be another innocuous meme game like its predecessor; though not without drama and intrigue, it is mainly a satire of Internet culture. But the game is significantly Darker and Edgier, and has a habit of setting up areas to be innocuous only to reveal the terror within, with plenty of Surreal Horror, multiple cases of Fate Worse than Death, Ominous Visual Glitches, a secret character named Amelie and her creepy hidden churchyard, and other things. These are just a few of the most prominent areas:
      • The first time the darker nature of the game becomes apparent is in the end of Chapter 3, where Wikipedia is destroyed and a bizarre colorful void is left in its place, while it's citizens are turned into the Overtaken, big zombie-like monsters that are tough to fight at the level you are.
      • /x/ is an area visited after the funny 4chan, so it looks like it will be a parody of Creepypasta (which originated there), but nope, it is a straightforward tribute with scary monsters, a dark atmosphere of dread throughout, Surreal Horror, and quite a bit of gore.
      • The Tower of Plot is in the middle of the humerous GameFAQs area and starts with a peaceful village, so it looks to be nothing bad. But even before you enter, a kid is crying because his father went in and disappeared. The Tower has a secret area home to Lady Ny'agai, who turns innocent children into Ny'agai, villagers that decide to Burn the Witch! and then turn into skeletons who case you, and a "silly" war plotline that ends with bloodshed no matter what you do.
      • The Deep Web, after the catacombs, opens to what looks like a generic lava dungeon, but soon becomes the most unsettling place in the game, with terrifying enemies and bosses, a dreary town filled with people cursed to stand still like statues, and references to dark legends of the Deep Web like the Lolita Slave Doll story (with you even being attacked by living Murderous Mannequins) and child trafficking.
  • The indie PC game Braid: A quirky puzzler with cute, bumbling enemies and brightly colored scenery. And then you get to the end and discover that the character you are playing is not the hero out to rescue the Damsel in Distress, but rather a crazy Stalker with a Crush. Also, there might be An Aesop about the atom bomb, depending on how you interpret it.
  • Bug Fables is mostly about a fantasy world of cute, cartoony bugs, but it's also an homage to the Paper Mario games, which means there's a freakiness lurking beneath the cute exterior. This culminates in the Giant's Lair, a human house on the eastern outskirts of Bugaria. What do you find in this house? Piles of long-abandoned human garbage like food packages and toys, a purple miasma fogging up the area, ominous music, and the Dead Landers, gruesomely misshapen creatures that have only the faintest resemblace to bugs. Late-game lore also talks about how the "giants" who once lived in this lair and the surrounding lands suddenly disappeared around the same time that bugs became sapient and civilized, but what exactly happened to them is unknown — and how and why the Dead Landers moved in is unclear as well.
  • Bugsnax at first appears to be a cartoonish game about catching bug-food hybrids, giving them to the locals to eat, and transforming various parts of their body into food. And it is, make no mistake. Then Filbo and the player finally find Lizbert, who tells them the truth: the Bugsnax are a parasitic species that cause everyone who eats them to become addicted and keep eating them until eventually they just turn into inanimate snak matter altogether. Oh, and the island you're on? It's made entirely of Bugsnax and the remains of everybody who came before you.
  • Calm Time starts relatively normal, with a party being held at a house in the countryside and the guests enjoying it and socializing. Then a girl in the kitchen asks you if you can hand her over the knife so she can cut the bread. Already from the way the main character holds the knife can you deduce that something is amiss, and shortly after that, shit gets real.
  • Camping starts off with a fun premise of camping, staying at a hotel, or being invited to a dinner party at the mansion, but then the Monster or Murderer attacks. Things get worse from there.
  • Can Your Pet? is a cute online Tamagotchi-style game in which you dress up, feed, bathe, and play with a baby chicken. Then you unlock the bicycle. It's not a bicycle, but saw blades that will kill the chicken you so lovingly raised.
  • Carrots and Cream is about digging up carrots, and grating them to make carrots and cream. Then you play as a worm avoiding the gardener's spade, before hiding in a carrot bigger than the others. And then you grate more carrots...
  • The Catto Boi series of games starts off with an adorable feline title protagonist collecting biscuits/pearls needed to progress through the colorful, vibrant levels. But then it becomes utterly creepy and horrific around the second half, with an unknown entity corrupting the entire world around him.
  • Champions Online is a mostly lighthearted Affectionate Parody of The Silver Age of Comic Books. That is until you encounter the "Aftershock" missions in which you're dragged into a hell dimension and have to save UNTIL agents stranded there along with you. Even so, none of this is particularly bad, up until the part where you are tasked with entering the tortured psyche of Elspeth Macalister and rescuing her from the malevolent memory of her mentally ill mother, who having killed Ellie's father is now dead set on doing the same to her own daughter. As if this weren't nightmarish enough, the mental projection of Ellie's childhood home is covered in throbbing organic-looking red veins and there is an ever-present Heartbeat Soundtrack thrumming in the background, punctuated by Ellie's heart-wrenching pleas for help and her mother's shrill calls for her daughter to show herself. In amongst this madness, you must stealthily lead Ellie to safety without her mother spotting her. If you fail, Elspeth will become Brainwashed and Crazy in the real world and you'll be forced to kill her alongside the Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl responsible for her mind rape.
  • The majority of Chicory: A Colorful Tale is cute, but there are hints at darker, more serious subjects, which are then brought to the forefront when entering the trees produced by the corruption. However, those segments are less about scaring the player, and more a representation of dealing with anxiety and low self-worth.
  • The webgame Cookie Clicker is a game that starts out with you clicking on a large cookie in order to make cookies. Then you can purchase buildings which will make cookies for you, one of which is a nice grandma who will bake cookies. Various upgrades are available to increase the rate at which the buildings create cookies. One of which is a bingo center specifically for the grandmas. It allows you to purchase even more grandma-centric upgrades, up until one called One Mind. Purchasing this upgrade, despite the description advising against it, starts the Grandmapocalypse, with progressively warped images of grandmas appearing on the page background, creepy status/news updates that keep getting worse and worse from "unnerving" to "apocalyptic", and some disgusting worm-like things raiding your cookie stash, which you have to fend off.
  • Corruption of Laetitia is mostly a fantasy Yuri Genre RPG starring cute girls out to defeat an Evil Overlord and his Corrupt Church. But in one segment, Malayna's home becomes taken over by embodiments of sin, and Celeste has to save Malayna by navigating it. The entire place is overrun by shadows, some of which will pop out and kill you instantly. And strange versions of Malayna come out to taunt Celeste. The entire segment resembles games like Ib and Mad Father.
  • Crimzon Clover seems like your typical Bullet Hell shooter, with massive tanks, bombers, and mechs to destroy, nothing that would really scare the average player (except in a "this game is too hard" way)...for the first two stages. Then comes stage 3 which features the only "organic" enemies in the game: deadly giant flowers and spiders. Thankfully for the arachnophobic and botanophobic, the game goes back to the usual mech enemies after that stage.
  • Cuphead:
    • The game has this in spades. Being a Boss Rush game based on cartoons from the 1930s, everything is trying to kill you, has crazy physics and once they reach their One-Winged Angel phase, the Nightmare Fuel starts pumping. Special mention to Hilda Berg for her clockwork crescent moon phase and The Devil.
    • The Delicious Last Course gets even worse when it comes time to face the Final Boss: the Evil All Along Chef Saltbaker. Between his psychotic Slasher Smile, his omnious theme song that constrasts with the rest of the game's soundtrack, and the way he butchers sentient ingredients during the fight, he can be described as the Cuphead equivalent to The Mad Doctor.
  • Deltarune, the official follow-up to Undertale, has quite a bit of this.
    • The first chapter is mostly quite lighthearted, with the main characters exploring a quaint Alice in Wonderland-inspired world to seal the dark fountain that threatens both that world and the world the player characters originate from. However, the final boss, the King, is revealed to be a (seemingly) abusive father who threatens to throw his son off a cliff if he gets in his way. In addition, the end of the first chapter culminates in everything seemingly wrapping up calmly... until the player character, Kris, gets out of bed, rips down their own SOUL, and brandishes a knife while staring at the screen with red eyes. Thankfully, the second chapter indicates that the King may not be as abusive as he comes off and gives a rather comedic explanation for the final scene, but what that chapter introduces may not be much of an improvement.
    • The "Weird Route" of the second chapter, also known by fans as the Snowgrave Route, may be one of the most extreme cases of this in any video game, and manages to handily beat even Undertale's Genocide Route in how messed up (and realistic) it is. To wit, during the very lighthearted plot mentioned above, Kris can ally themselves with Noelle and order her to freeze every Darkner they encounter, with their frozen forms remaining on screen. Kris can then lead Noelle on and imply they have feelings for her, something which makes her gain a dramatic level of trust in the player. They can then force Noelle to murder a shopkeeper to steal a magic ring he has and gift it to her. This incident shakes Noelle to her core so much that she hardly has any memory of it after it happens and after she remembers, she outright considers killing Kris as payback, although she doesn't follow up on it. Kris can then force Noelle to bypass puzzles by going next to high-voltage barriers at risk to her own life as she repeatedly begs Kris to stop while they order her to "PROCEED". She ultimately submits and manages to bypass them, which in turn causes her to gain a sudden devotion to Kris, now seeing them as someone who is merely looking out for her and wants her to gain her full power. By the end of it, Noelle is now a broken shell of her former self, and talks about how she doesn't know what's going on anymore aside from her devotion to Kris and how all her memories are blurring together. When Berdly, Noelle's best friend, arrives, Noelle no longer recognizes him and asks Kris if she can freeze him like the others, shocking Berdly so much that he initiates a battle just to save her, right as Noelle realizes her mistake and begs him to leave. The player can then force Noelle to use a brand new power that she has no knowledge of as she once again begs them not to, but once again she relents, and this ends up freezing and killing Berdly, something that causes her to run away in tears. After a Big Damn Heroes moment where she saves Kris from an even more maniacal version of Spamton NEO, the cast wake up in their own world beside Berdly's motionless body, and Noelle runs away and tries to frantically reassure herself that the events were just a dream, while indicating the person giving her commands was not Kris after all, but the player themselves. And Kris has the opportunity to tell her that it wasn't a dream...
  • Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter (DS Version) is, like its predecessor, a relatively lighthearted game. And then the credits roll, and you see oil paintings of the fatal car accident that caused their world to come into existence.
  • Evenicle normally is a rather bright-looking H-Game, with humorous dialogue, colorful character designs, and over-the-top villains. Then you enter the Sugarcube Factory and watch a dead serious recording of a woman simultaneously getting violated and eaten by monsters. After you get out, the cheeriness resumes.
  • Fable II has the infamous Winter Lodge. Behind one of the many Demon Doors, the Winter Lodge seems like a rather cozy place at first. It is a house in the middle of a beautiful snowy field with a nice glow over everything. However, as soon as you open the door there is a Scare Chord and everything suddenly changes. Inside the house, everything is decrepit and dirty and there are torture implements everywhere. And outside, everything is dark and there are multiple dead bodies. It isn't the only creepy moment in the game, but it definitely stands out.
  • Forestia: 8 of the 9 scenarios that you can play through in this game are lighthearted fun. The one exception is the Fire Mountain Chapter which begins with Sam inviting you to look at a constellation of a dragon in the tower, after which both you and him go to sleep. When you wake up, the entire area is bathed in an eerie red glow, all of the animals are standing motionless around the forest, with their souls floating away from their bodies, and a dragon tells you that an evil wizard is planning to awaken a volcano that will destroy everything.
  • Free Realms: Merry Vale, the 24-hour party place where everyone has fun! ... too much fun to notice that their kids are getting abducted.
  • Friday Night Funkin':
    • Week 5, "Red Snow", has you fight against Girlfriend's parents in a mall, with plenty of cameos from various Newgrounds media. At least, the first two songs do. The final one, "Winter Horrorland", starts out with the Christmas Tree decked out with intestines and a severed head in Girlfriend's likeness as a startopper. The mall is abandoned, and the Girlfriend's parents have been replaced with a monster with a lemon for a head, singing about eating the Boyfriend and the Girlfriend.
    • Week 6, "Hating Simulator", is about the Boyfriend and the Girlfriend being getting trapped in a dating sim, the protagonist of said sim cheerfully challenging Boyfriend to a sing off for Girlfriend's hand. By the second song, the "Senpai"'s polite personality is revealed to be a facade, and by the third, his body bursts open to reveal a murky pink spirit, the colorful schoolyard becoming a dark, wavy location. The Spirit reveals that Daddy Dearest put him into the game, implied to be because he wanted to date the Girlfriend, and that he actually wants to steal Boyfriend's body so he can escape the game and get revenge for himself and all the other unfortunate suitors.
    • The mod VS Ghost Twins starts off very cute and harmless with the typical Lighter and Softer tones. Things start to become more dark and depressing when The Ghost Twins become the entity, Tanrie, who looks to be a Eldritch Abomination. "Illustrious", however, sets the mod back to the start when the Twins are resurrected.
  • The Gradius series features this. Most of the games are standard Shoot 'Em Ups with little in the way of Nightmare Fuel, but the final bosses tend to be very disturbing, including things such as a disembodied, skinless head, a large brain with a face surrounded by several eerie, moaning faces, and a giant eye.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved: So you've been shooting your way through plasma toting aliens for about half the game on a ring-shaped planet. So far, nothing too bad. Then Cortana starts freaking out, and yelling at you to find the captain as soon as you can. So you find Keyes' last known location, and find the reason she was so nervous... along with your own kind shooting you in confusion. The Covenant came across some sort of parasite that turns people into zombie-like monster called the Flood, who are so powerful that one parasite can eventually multiply enough to turn a whole species extinct. Keyes followed suit and his squad and himself were horrifically mutated. Then they bust through the doors and try to overwhelm you as you try to get to the surface. The introduction of the Flood caught many people who were accustomed to the typical sci-fi story thus far off guard.
  • Downplayed with Happy Game. While it makes no secret how disturbing it will be, it is by far the most disturbing game from Amanita Design.
  • A Hat in Time is a gleefully adorable Genre Throwback 3D platformer. Bright, colorful, cel-shaded, and generally the most cheerful thing you'll find. Except for Queen Vanessa's Manor, where the gameplay and tone start to look more like Amnesia: The Dark Descent or Outlast. Here, you're scurrying from hiding spot to hiding spot as you try to make your way through the house, hiding from the Queen's tormented spirit lest she make you an ice sculpture, not to mention the notes describing her twisted life.
  • Hypnospace Outlaw is a wacky, pastel-hued Simulation Game taking place in a pastiche of late-90s internet, and full of the sort of quirky but believably human characters you'd find wandering around the weird corners of something like GeoCities. Oh, and it's accessed by a Brain/Computer Interface designed by Incompetence, Inc.. Things get rather dark as the game goes on.
  • Iconoclasts starts off somewhat cheery, looking like a classic SNES adventure game with wrenches and pirates and an evil government being the Big Bad. Then you find out your character does her charitable job illegally, you get to watch The Dragon rip off your older brother's arm in rage, and watch an Eldritch Abomination completely shatter the mind of one of your friends, leaving him nearly comatose and eventually left for dead on a collapsing moon base.
  • I=MGCM seems like a vivid, Pretty Cure-like Magical Girl Warrior game. However, there are two reasons why this game is rated 17+: Heavy Fanservice and huge amount of nightmare fuel, especially in the main story.
  • Infra presents itself as a mundane Scenery Gorn-heavy first-person exploration game, until you read stories and see murals of the local bogeyman known as Mörkö, or worse, encounter him in person.
  • Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass seems like a typical light-hearted RPG adventure through a dream-esque landscape, starring the titular Jimmy and his loving, quirky family. The First Town is Smile, an area populated by cute Funny Animals, and the enemies are goofy creatures like a turtle with a box for a shell. And the “villains” are a group of petty thugs (who are even called the Petty Thugs) engaging in Poke the Poodle villainy and being Stupid Crooks. Then you return to the Buddy Beehive and find it's suddenly turned into a nightmarish labyrinth of undead mutated bees, and it doesn't get any better from there:
    • The titular Big Bad who hired the Petty Thugs, the Pulsating Mass, is revealed to be an Eldritch Abomination who hates Jimmy and wants to destroy his dream world, and it is played terrifyingly straight as a villain. It is the being responsible for the corruption of the Beehive. In addition, the entire game turns out to be a Dying Dream of a boy with terminal cancer, which the Pulsating Mass represents.
    • The majority of the game world is as quirky as the first world, but scattered about are Nightmare Zones, Bonus Dungeons that are horror-themed. The first two are dark caves that limit your field of vision, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere, and one of them has a giant snake as a boss. Other common things found include grotesque enemies, blood and corpses, and a chilling soundtrack.
    • A specific, and required, Nightmare Zone that does this is Johnathon Bear’s Playtime Forest, which starts off cutesy with the Show Within a Show’s saccharine theme song, everything made of wooden props, and the Funny Animal characters of the show serving as enemies. Then as you go further in, the level gets darker and the enemies become shadows with red eyes. Eventually, the level becomes grotesque, with body parts like eyes, brains, and a giant beating heart serving as scenery, while the enemies become mutated and bloody versions of their original selves, and it ends with a terrifying boss fight.
    • Jimmy's mindset is explored a few times, and his internal thoughts are both creepy and depressing, a lategame boss is Jimmy himself, representing all of his feeling at resentment towards his own weakness towards this disease, who gives a visceral "The Reason You Suck" Speech... to himself. And the cutscene where Jimmy acquires the Phoenix transformation after a bonus dungeon implies that Jimmy has become a Death Seeker who is looking forward to when the cancer finally takes him, so that way at least his family can move on.
  • Kero Blaster is a colorful, silly game about a salaryman frog who cleans his company's teleporters by shooting the daylights out of any critters who disrupt its operations or get in his way. You wouldn't expect it to have the hero being transported to an unknown, dark cave full of broken clocks and red liquid, a swarm of Blob Monsters nearly bringing about the downfall of civilization, and the protagonist's boss getting possessed and horribly deformed by one of them. It develops a vaguely ominous feel fairly early on that grows creepier as the game progresses, but the whimsical tone keeps the game from straying into horror story territory.
  • In the first episode of Life Is Strange, there are definitely hints of some dark subjects - a missing girl, an innocent girl being bullied, a girl who tells a story about how she was drugged but got away in time - but for the most part, the game had an optimistic, teen indie air so a lot of people assumed it would have a pretty light air and only briefly touch on the darker stuff.
    • Episode 2, in which a girl describes how she was drugged and possibly raped and then attempts (or commits) suicide definitely brings the creepiness up.
    • In Episode 4, the player has to look around an underground bunker where girls were drugged and dragged to so they could be manipulated into sexual positions for photos, with those photos being shown to the player, before the episode ends with the protagonist being stabbed with a needle and drugged while her friend is shot in the head, and the ending teaser showing said protagonist tearfully trapped in that bunker again while the villain preps more needles.
    • Episode 5 picks up from there, with the kindly Cool Teacher Mark Jefferson explaining that he was the true Big Bad and going into detail about his sickening obsession, taunting Max in a disturbingly calm voice that fluctuates into Suddenly Shouting. After Max is rescued, she and Chloe have to navigate through an incoming tornado and the carnage it has caused, with the whole city ruined and everyone screaming and running for their lives, and the whole thing ends with a Surreal Horror Nightmare Sequence and a final Sadistic Choice.
  • Live A Live: The Prehistory chapter is the most comedic chapter with jokes and gags that evoke The Flintstones which starts off with a young caveboy named Pogo and his poop-throwing gorilla sidekick Gori who find a young cavewoman named Beru whom Pogo becomes smitten with (and unlike other chapters that simply hide whatever they're actually doing, it is seemingly intentionally so). After she gets kidnapped by a rival Kuu tribe, the duo find out that she's being prepared as a sacrifice to the last living T-rex who had been terrorising the Kuu tribe for years unless they offer it food, and it looks more like a demon than the usually cartoony animal enemies in this chapter.
  • Miss World '96 Nude is infamous as a horror game posing as a porn game. The gameplay consists of removing the obstructions that block your view of pictures of scantily-clad women. Take too long, and the image "turns" - the woman turns into a hideous monster as the gameplay gets harder. It's the ultimate in Fan Disservice, and freaky.
  • My Friendly Neighborhood, despite being a Survival Horror game, derives almost all its horror from the survival aspect of rationing health, item space, ammo, and puzzle items. The puppets are generally too silly and funny to be actually scary, they're all Obliviously Evil, and you actually end up empathizing with them more than fearing them. Then you end up in the Unfriendly Neighborhood. It's pitch-black and requires a flashlight, and the puppets here are not friendly or silly: they are missing eyes, with human teeth, and disgustingly textured skin, lack any humorous quotes and can only growl, and they actually want you dead. They're introduced via a Jump Scare and come lurching out of the darkness, one even armed with a sickle, with every intention of tearing you apart if they catch you.
  • A lot of Myst has this. Special mention goes to the brothers' rooms in the first game, and Myst IV's Serenia - a lovely world of glowing butterflies, literal stone forests, and magic memory-storing lotuses. And then comes the Spirit Ceremony and the Big Bad's plan for Yeesha.
  • One game in the Nickelodeon Clickamajigs catalogue is an infamous Halloween themed game known as Black Licorice. Like most clickamajigs, it involves a simple premise: giving adorable trick-or-treating kids candy. But, whatever you do, DO NOT give the kids the black licorice. If you do, which is bound to happen eventually since the good candies will start to dwindle after a little while, you will be in for a shock when you see how they react. Just always keep in mind:
    Oh yeah! I almost forgot... HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!
  • NiGHTS into Dreams… is a pretty, if slightly surreal game which involves prancing around dream worlds and battling weird monsters. Then you get to Wizeman. A colossal, looming shadow with no distinct face, a thundering voice, and six eyes, each one set into a separate, floating hand. His first direct interaction with the protagonists in the sequel is to suddenly appear in the hub world, tear apart the ground, and take out Invincible Hero NiGHTS by electrocuting them into unconsciousness and then dragging them with him into the Dark Sea.
  • The classic 1988 Ninja Gaiden is largely tongue-in-cheek and has you fighting human enemies as a ninja in the employ of the CIA. However the Game Over screen is total Nightmare Fuel: Ryu is tied down and surrounded by leering demons, pleading as a circular sawblade sinks down towards his chest. Presumably, Jaquio was successful in opening the realm of chaos and demonkind have taken over the world, leaving the surviving humans as their playthings.
  • Ōkami:
    • Most locations in Okami are vibrant with colorful characters, bright music, and thick-line artwork reminiscent of a Japanese scroll painting. The surprise comes mostly from two locations: the Sunken Ship and Yoshpet forest. They are creepy and quite jarring in contrast to the rest of the world. And there's also the Body Horror parts where you go inside someone's body, which is as nasty-looking as you'd expect (particularly the stomach acid dripping from the water dragon).
    • Ōkamiden even more so. The rating is lower, the player character is painfully cute, and then you see tank-sized skeletons made of the bones of murder victims and a Player Punch to end all Player Punches.
  • The Pancakes Official Game Show, created by Dema Studios, is an innocent-looking first-person walkthrough experience that is initially absolutely hilarious to the player, involving pushing people off cliffs and solving math problems (the answer, of course, is 'Fish', as referenced in the previous game Bill's Hotel). It seems like you'll only get to keep having more fun killing people, until the third game starts and you realize this isn't just a comedy, but a horror game. You're greeted with a warped, distorted version of the cheery opening theme as you walk through an incredibly dark house, only ending when you're chased through the basement by a deranged stick figure ringing a cowbell. This subversion of the killer becoming the victim will definitely catch you off guard.
  • PAYDAY 2 never pretended to be innocent, but other than nods to its inspiration and the odd Halloween Episode, it was never anything other than a heist simulator with a standard crime movie plot. And then the Kataru showed up... and things started getting complicated.
  • Indie developer CC & SH loves this trope. It normally appears as an Easter Egg that you have to go and go very much out of your way to hunt down. For example, in their first ever game, Ping!, clicking specific spots on the screen during the end credits will cause the game to suddenly go full-screen, showing a black background with pulsating Chinese text and a very disturbing noise. You can't even exit the game at this point without bringing up task manager, either.
  • In Psychonauts, Milla's brain seems to contain nothing but fun and parties. However, if you manage to find a slightly out-of-the-way area, you discover that she used to work at an Orphanage of Love... which was destroyed and all the orphans killed in a house fire and continue to haunt her nightmares, crying out things like, "Save us, Milla," and "Milla, why won't you help us?" Reportedly, the original plan was to have Milla's nightmares attack Raz, from time to time— this is where the Giant Space Flea from Nowhere mini-bosses in the Milkman Conspiracy stemmed from.
  • Quest Fantasy is So Bad, It's Good, and involves characters who go "oh es so kawaii" and reference the zelda cd-i games. The second half of the game has characters dying and bleeding from their eyes and a boss that is a Shout-Out to Giygas. The next games feature the characters going about their business until the Eldritch Abomination shows up and everything goes to hell, and the final game has the protagonist attempt to save the world from the entity. Then two more malicious otherworldly creatures show up, one wanting to Take Over the World and the other wanting to eat it.
  • Rabi-Ribi:
    • The game is for the most part extremely light hearted, with adorable enemies, cheerful music, and 99% of the bosses fight you only because A) they get hit with temporary brainwashing or B) they just want to play. So it's rather shocking to find Aruraune casually explaining that she originally went deep into the forest to commit suicide, before her body merged with the plant life.
    • The battle with Miru is a huge tone-shift. Most of the other bosses, including the final and post-final bosses, have upbeat songs and colorful, vibrant bullets. Miru's fight is in a Room Full of Crazy, mostly colored in dark black and red, and has a low, creepy song accompanying it, seemingly to highlight the character's grief and insanity.
  • Re:Kuroi: Despite the cute artstyle and the initially optimistic first arc of Kaito joining the wizard community, the story is quite dark due to the Black Pearl overloading people with magic powers to turn them into monsters. There are also plot elements like unethical human experimentation and drug addiction.
  • The Senran Kagura series features pretty ninja girls beating the crap out of each other, with most of the fight scenes often seeing their clothing getting sliced up all for Fanservice moments. Then it starts dipping into the drama dealing with heavy themes like overcoming grief, survivors' guilt, and isolation. And then it cranks into horror with the heroines often having to fight terrifying Eldritch Abominations filled with Body Horror.
  • SimCity 4: "Primordial Dream", an extremely creepy song... and it's only purpose? Playing over the empty barren wasteland after you obliterate the city! Here, have a listen!
  • Soma Spirits: This game starts off cute, with both worlds featuring chibified pixel art characters, but the second half of the game has creepy elements.
    • If the party obtains four of the same orb but none of the opposing orb, one of the main characters will transform into a darker version of themselves with a spiral in place of their face, all while going through Sanity Slippage. If the party gets more of the same orb, the corrupted party member manifests Absolution as a monstrous battle aura, and then destroys one of the worlds.
    • In the true ending, the Final Boss, Absolution, starts as a set of monstrous eyes and a mouth, with the rest of their face covered in darkness. Once the darkness lifts, they're shown to have multiple eyes and tentacles, making them more grotesque than Heart and Soul's versions of Absolution from the worst endings.
  • Sonic Dreams Collection starts as a rather tame riff on the Sonic fandom, but as the levels and sequences progress, the scenarios become increasingly morbid, disturbing, and bizarre.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 got the Surprise Creepy ball running for the series in general. Players expect the same old song-and-dance of Sonic stopping Eggman from taking over the world, but the former throws a curveball with the reveal that Eggman's new pet, Chaos, wiped out an ancient civilization (the circumstances leading up to it being pretty frightening in their own right) and almost does the same thing in the present day. The sequel sends things even further Off the Rails when it turns out someone was straight-up KILLED in the backstory, fueling a drive for revenge on the part of Eggman's grandfather that nearly destroys the world!
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) does have a surprisingly creepy villain in Mephiles, a manipulative character vaguely resembling Shadow who has no mouth, yet speaks. Not helping matters is the fact that, in the endgame, he straight-up murders Sonic in the blink of an eye.
    • Sonic Unleashed has bright, vibrant, beautiful landscapes and a world full of unique and oftentimes humorous characters. Even the fact that the world is broken apart isn't as bad as it would seem. Then you run into the final boss, Dark Gaia, a colossal Eldritch Abomination that's more intimidating and monstrous than the likes of Perfect Chaos and Solaris. Then it becomes Perfect Dark Gaia, in a supremely gruesome transformation sequence that involves sprouting extra arms from its sides in a shower of blood and splitting its head open to reveal eyes and masses of tongues!
    • Long before that there was Knuckles Chaotix, a pretty whimsical game with a carnival theme and a matching color palette. Then you reach the final boss in which Metal Sonic undergoes a One-Winged Angel transformation, becoming a giant blood-colored fanged monstrosity unlike anything else in the classic games[1]. Then if you beat the game without all Chaos Rings, you're treated to a credits scene in which he's shown hovering over a city in flames, implying he destroyed the place and killed millions...
  • SUPERHOT starts off as a fun, addicting game with the humorous song "SUPER. HOT." congratulating your successes. Then The Ending Changes Everything, when it's revealed that this is intentional, as it's a brainwashing simulator convincing you to pull a Brain Uploading procedure, then convince your real life friends to play the game. The track above? HAND. OVER. CONTROL.
  • Survival Crisis Z
    • The game starts out as a cookie cutter Zombie Apocalypse scenario. The disturbing imagery during the intro to the story mode turns out to be a Foreshadowing for something worse to come.
    • Episode 2 is when the game starts being off. First there is a story quest involving checking out somebody who was ill. Rather than just turning into a zombie, the ill person grows large spider legs in a sudden boss fight. Then Episode 3 has a woman warn you about "the children". There will be a segment where you'll be attacked by hordes of Creepy Child zombies brandishing bloody knife. That's not to mention how starting from the end of Episode 2, the town you're in undergoing a Silent Hill esque otherworld transition...
  • SWAT 4 on its surface is a Tactical Shooter about leading a SWAT Team through a range of relatively mundane callouts. From this premise, the game leans hard into the Realism-Induced Horror of the job: The creepy night time ambience of each mission goes well with the paranoia that there could be a suspect ready to ambush you around any corner. That's on top of how most of the crimes you deal with involve people with grounded motivations and actions. And that's not considering the handful of missions where the game fully embraces the pure horror of the worst things a SWAT Team may have to deal with.
    • "Fairfax Household" tasks you with raiding the home of a suspected Serial Killer to rescue his most recent victim. It is the easiest mission in the game (the aforementioned killer is your only suspect, with a random chance that he may be accompanied by a single accomplice), but the focus of the mission is instead in you exploring the house: Stepping in to a regular suburban home and discovering a place of squalor occupied by the killer's frail mother, who insists that her son is innocent. Discovering hints of the killer's upbringing before finding that his bedroom has become a shrine to his media attention. The mission ends with a pair of masterfully terrifying Reveal Shots: You discover a curtained off room, and as your turn the corner you discover a range of paper mache face masks and a woman laying on a soiled mattress. This isn't the victim you came to rescue; searching through a makeshift tunnel, you find a bunker containing your rescue target in the midst of a Heroic BSoD surrounded by scraps of food and an almost complete paper mache cast of herself.
    • "Children of Tarrone Tennament" has you raid the base of a Doomsday Cult. The cult's beliefs are highly detailed and grounded, with the entire building having been transformed into a commune for their activities and even the non-combatants responding to your arrival in a brainwashed state. The Reveal Shot is that you find a set of child graves in the tenament's basement: The cult members had murdered their children under the orders of their leader in expectation for your arrival.
    • "St. Michael's Medical Center" has you respond to a terrorist attack at a hospital. You are Late to the Tragedy, and are treated to the realistic aftermath of a mass shooting, the only time in the game where many of the civilians you find are dead on arrival.
  • Titan Souls is, for the most part, a colorful fantasy game where you fight standard monsters. Then you fight the True Final Boss. After defeating The Soul and entering the gate it was guarding, you wind up in an empty white void. Truth, a giant unblinking eye inside of two eye-covered wheels, then appears. When you damage it, the wheels move to the edges of the screen and become gates that fire black orbs with eyes and biting mouths at you, occasionally firing Truth at you. Once you hit Truth again, it briefly recoils before sprouting tentacles and beginning to chase you. While all of this is happening, the adventurous music of the rest of the game is replaced with atonal noise that wouldn't be out of place in a horror game.
  • Terraria: The player's first night, most likely. Sure, it's a cheerful sandbox game that takes place in a cutesy Sugar Bowl world, but then night falls and the zombies and flying disembodied eyeballs show up. It can happen even before then if the player stumbles upon the Corruption or the Crimson, going from a cheerful, friendly forest environment to either a diseased land covered in thorns and inhabited by a host of flying nasties or an organic, fleshy-looking wasteland.
  • Subverted with Tyke & Sons Lumber Co.. The game does have cutesy segments that segue into horror segments, but instead of just using the cute segments to disguise a horror game, this game incorporates these segments to tell the majority of the story.
  • ULTRAKILL is normally a fast-paced Stylish Action game. The exception to this is one of the secret levels, Something Wicked, a pitch-black labyrinth devoid of any music and full of terrifying, spindly, One-Hit Kill monsters.
  • Undertale is a game where you meet a number of delightfully quirky characters who crack countless jokes and puns, including dog knights who just want to be petted and a Large Ham fish knight who believes that everything shown in anime is real. It's also a game where a cute little flower turns out to be a nightmarish and sadistic villain who believes that it's "kill or be killed"—and you see this at the very beginning of the game. If you decide to go out of your way to slaughter every monster in your path, you can expect one hell of a bad time — Sans's cryptic remark of "you're gonna have a bad time" and Stealth Hi/Bye will be the first indication that something's gone south. Then the tone of the game slowly turns unsettling as all the background music is slowed down or edited to some degree, characters start disappearing from the over world as you kill them off one by one, and several startling messages such as "where are the knives" appear in bright red text in place of the usual flavor text found on other routes. And in case if you actually do a complete pacifist run you get to end on one hell of a happy ending, but not before you have to go through the True Lab which is like one of Resident Evil's facilities if it popped up in Silent Hill.
    • If you meet up with Sans the Skeleton in the MTT Resort restaurant, you're treated to a soothing, relaxing atmosphere while bluesy jazz music plays and Sans chats with you. He's telling you the story of how he met this old lady in the woods through a massive door, and now they tell each other dumb knock-knock jokes (of course, Sans had to get back home in time to read Papyrus his bedtime story). Then Sans starts talking about how one day, she made him promise to protect any humans that came through, which can tug at the old heartstrings. And then:
      Sans: do you get what i'm saying? that promise i made to her... you know what would have happened if she hadn't said anything?
      Sans: ...buddy.
      Sans: Y o u ' d b e d e a d w h e r e y o u s t a n d.
    • Depending on your Fun Value for a playthrough, there's a chance of an NPC appearing in Waterfall, who tells you that you should be friends with her neighbour's daughter, who you never get to meet in the game. She seems quite cheerful aside from her comments about fate. But then in the Nintendo Switch version, again determined by Fun Value, there's a chance that in the Playable Epilogue, she'll tell you that "the time that you will meet her... is fast approaching." As she says this, she turns grey, her arms become more tentacle-like, and her face becomes just an eye. And then she disappears.
  • The Unfinished Swan is a little adventure game about a boy chasing an Unfinished Swan through a world of white that you color by throwing balls of paint so you can see your way through. It's all well and good and positive... until you get to the Forest. Suddenly, Darkness Equals Death and darkness is EVERYWHERE, there are evil eyes glaring at you from everywhere, and only certain plants will light up the surroundings (and even then, not that much).
  • The Yo! Noid Fan Sequel, Yo! Noid 2: Enter the Void starts off as a lighthearted spoof of the original game, with a cheesy live-action opening cutscene, lots of puns, and a button dedicated to dabbing. Even after you enter the titular Noid Void, there are still plenty of fun anthropomorphic food characters and bright, cheery moments. Then, during the second level, you find a rapidly glitching character who tells you that the whole world is just an illusion, and that "he" monitors everything, although he can be stopped. Then, at the climax of the game, you find out who "he" is: Mike Hatsune, a Humanoid Abomination who seeks to replace the Noid with "a new Noid for a new age", speaks in text-to-speech (unlike every other character, mind you) and lives in a creepy television world without any of the charm or humor of the other levels. The worst part? He actually succeeds, replacing the Noid with Hatsune Miku... just like in real life.
  • For the most part, You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream is the same irreverent game of trivia as ever, with a bit more Black Comedy than usual now that fictional data-mining streaming service Binjpipe has acquired the show. However, one potential "episode" reveals that Cookie Masterson has been trapped Inside a Computer System and Binjpipe is actually a front for an Assimilation Plot wherein all human life will be "turned into content". To twist the knife, Cookie is reset just as he figures out what's going and pledges to stop it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dream Daddy is, for the most part, a fairly upbeat Dating Sim taking place in a welcoming Gayborhood, and many of the endings match the tone... except for both the Death Endings and the Cult Ending, the former which involve you suddenly dying, and the latter taking a hard swerve into the world of Religious Horror.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend is typically very light-hearted, but there are two instances of this. First is the ending of Shuu's route, where he kills you and has carried your disembodied head around with him for a while, and ends with him asking if you love him with the only answer being yes. Second is the entirety of the Bad Boy's Love route, which takes a bit to unlock. By the time you get to it, the difference between it and just about everything else you've experienced will make it hit even harder. Then there's the backstory...
  • Root Letter has a pretty comfortable premise: The main character travels to his childhood penpal's hometown to meet her or find out why she stopped writing to him. The story combines elements of comedy, mystery and romance stories in an enjoyable manner, and one of the routes outright ends with the main character and his childhood penpal getting married. However, choosing the first answer on every letter gives the player the "Cursed Letter" route, which, as the name indicates, is not a happy ending, with the penpal's classmates being brutally killed off one after another with the main character being killed off last. After the credits, another person receives a letter from the penpal, indicating that the entire cycle is starting over.
  • Shall We Date?: Wizardess Heart: Azusa's route. It starts out very sweet and romantic, with a little underlying mystery later...and then you get to the part where you can choose whether or not to tell him about the magic earrings. If you tell him, Azusa summons a Nue that actually kills the protagonist. She immediately time-travels back so she'll survive this time, but daaaang. This actually can happen more than once, and then, later, Azusa shows his true colors and basically becomes an abusive boyfriend.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Bogleech: The gwound is made of tasty! Although this was intended to be an inversion.
  • Brawl in the Family: It starts off with a lighthearted and goofy atmosphere that it never sheds, but has a lot of Black Humor, even to Death as Comedy levels. The dramatic story arcs are also often quite dark. In this sense, it mimics the storytelling style of Kirby.
  • Dot X is a lighthearted webcomic about children playing together. Up until Night Terror, that is: a millennia-old demon is trying to take control of the main character's body. And it succeeds. And tries to kill a child.
  • Fortuna: Starts off as a very light-hearted and childish adventure of space furries, with a neat artstyle and a simple story; the hints of what's to come are rather subtle and easy to dismiss. And then, at the end of your tutorial game, you have a medium-aware AI ripping your characters to shreds, staring directly at you and begging you to stay with him forever like some sort of yandere. The rest of the webcomic also has quite a few scary moments, but this one takes the cake due to how much of a mood whiplash it is.
  • Homestuck: So, it's about a bunch of kids trying to play a videogame? Cool! And then the deaths start happening... and then the blood... and then THIS and THIS happens and you're having nightmares from this RELENTLESSLY LIGHTHEARTED webcomic.
    • The Squiddles practically have this as their mission statement. The theme is exemplified in this tune.
  • M9 Girls!: For a comic with pretty Magical Girl designs and Shojo influences, the Big Bad and his cronies are pretty freaky-looking and disturbing.
  • Monster Pulse: It's all fun and games until someone gets their head bashed in with a rock. Although the entire premise of "organs being ripped from the body and turning into giant monsters" might also fit the bill.
  • Milk And Mocha is almost always adorable, except for one comic in which the smile-free but otherwise friendly bear Mocha offers to smile for Milk. Milk eagerly gets the camera and... an utterly terrifying Nightmare Face. It turns out to be All Just a Dream, thankfully; suffice it to say nobody in the fanbase wants to see Mocha smile for real.
  • My Deepest Secret has an adorable art style and seems like it's setting up to tell the story of a cute, wholesome romance between Emma and her boyfriend, Elios. And then it's revealed at the end of the first episode that Elios is a violently protective yandere, and likely a sociopath.
  • Issues 8 and 10 of Sonichu. The former explores the titular species' sexuality in disturbing detail, and the latter has Author Avatar Chris-Chan eliminating everything she hates, from homosexuality to Encyclopedia Dramatica and 4chan (represented by Chris-Chan destroying an entire building full of people), and finally brutally murdering the four people behind Asperchu just for making fun of her. All in a webcomic supposedly meant for children.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatian Street:
    • The episode "Doggy Da Vinci" starts off simple enough, being a story about Da Vinci suffering burnout from being forced to paint t-shirts to make money. However, when the humans of Camden find out that the "mystery artist" painting the shirts is a dog, they give chase, prompting a Nightmare Sequence. Said sequence goes from the humans being enveloped in dark fog to a surrealist reconstruction of the park, and ends off with Da Vinci nearly drowning. The fact that Hunternote  is in this episode certainly does not help.
    • "Better the De Vil You Know" is this for the whole show. Up to this point, even the most dangerous situations the pups were put into (including pest control and the aforementioned Hunter) were resolved through typical cartoon antics. This episode, however, officially introduces the show's true Big Bad, Cruella De Vil. Her design is even more unnerving than in previous media, and she's spent around sixty years chasing down the same family of dogs to make her treasured fur coat. What's worse, we see that Hunter has been on the receiving end of some serious emotional abuse from her; at the end of the episode, she very nearly hits him with her car. And those were just her actions in this episode.
  • Adventure Time looks like such a fun and childish show, and most of the time it genuinely is. Then comes the mountains of Nightmare Fuel, loads of Backstory Horror, and numerous Vile Villains.
    • "Holly Jolly Secrets" is by far the most infamous example. A two-part episode composed mostly of Christmas-like hijinks and watching Ice King's embarrassing video diaries, it ends with the most shocking and depressing reveal in the entire series, forever changing the nature of a main character. "My name is Simon Petrikov."
    • "Beautopia" is nowhere near as bad, but when those inflatable pool floaties turn out to be anything but, even the characters are terrified.
    • "Finn the Human"/"Jake the Dog" begins in an Alternate Universe where Finn is a normal kid with a normal dog and deals with normal family problems, trying to help his parents with a gang of thugs. Cue the Destiny Gang burning down Finn's house with his family still inside, Finn becoming the Ice King and losing it in a horrifying way, and the origin of the Lich.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Night" has two examples: the first is in what looks like Anais having a nightmare that she's swapped roles with her Daisy the Donkey doll, who is alive and abuses an Anais doll while refusing to end its suffering. Then it turns out that it wasn't Anais' nightmare, but her Daisy doll really is alive and it was her dream of revenge. The second is in Alan's nightmare, which is full of disturbing imagery that he doesn't seem to be bothered by.
  • Amphibia: The show began with Anne's misadventures alongside the Plantars as they search for a way back to Earth. The most blatant creepy moment is when Marcy is subjected to becoming a vessel for The Core as the process has her screaming in agony while it possesses her body.
  • Bottersnikes and Gumbles is a lighthearted, unashamedly silly cartoon show adapted from a children's book of the same name that revolves around the cute and friendly Gumbles and the filth-loving Bottersnikes with Black-and-White Morality. It's all fun and games until you learn one of the Gumbles has a questionably jarring backstory in which he was just as outgoing as the other Gumbles before getting into an incident so horrific that he went from bold to withdrawn and fearful and permanently lost his ability to speak, with strong implications that only one other Gumble knows about it who keeps it a secret from others. Said character also gets an episode that looks into his thoughts consisting of Inner Monologue, which barely express any emotions at all (except for fear and disgust) and include speech that sounds like something coming from a person with PTSD.
  • By Van Beuren Studios, Circus Capers, a cartoon that blatantly plagiarizes the designs of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, starts off pretty generic and happy... then Rita (Minnie) is revealed to be cheating on Milton (Mickey) with the obvious villain of the cartoon. Milton discovers this and almost instantly becomes fat and depressed. He begins to sing "Laugh Clown, Laugh" with a horribly wrinkled and disfigured face. In response, Rita realizes her horrid mistake, and attempts to return to Milton. He rejects her, and, out of nowhere, his head detaches from his body, enlarges in Gross-Up Close-Up detail, winks at the screen and inflates again, covering the entire screen with his nose. What follows in several prints of the cartoon is a quick cut to a bunch of happy dancing ducks from the unrelated short The Booze Hangs High. A couple of prints give a "The End" screen instead of said ducks, but one wonders if that wasn't the actual ending.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog, taking cartoony premises and villains and making them genuinely horrifying. Katz is probably the most frequent source, as when his latest overly elaborate Death Trap fails he usually just resorts to strangling Courage.
  • The last two episodes of The Cuphead Show! Season 3, which reveal how Ms. Chalice died, her Deal with the Devil, and involve The Devil intimidating her by showing her what she'd look like if he'd never resurrected her from the dead, stomp on the gas so hard from the episodes that preceded it that Henchman actually lampshades it.
    Henchman: Aw jeez! This seems unnecessarily graphic!
  • Gravity Falls easily fits under this category, with a thorough mix of sweetness and horrifying creatures.
    • "The Inconveniencing" is rather light-hearted until a horrifying creature resembling the nervous system shows up. Dipper slams the door shut on it, an appropriate reaction.
    • "Sock Opera" contains this as well, with Bipper jabbing forks into his arms, pouring soda into his eyes, and throwing himself down the stairs, resulting in injuries so bad that Dipper asks to go to the hospital once he's got his body back.
  • Kaeloo: The episode "Let's Play Trap-Trap". It starts off with a seemingly normal plot where Kaeloo, Stumpy, Quack Quack, and Mr. Cat play a nice game of Trap-Trap, with the beginning being so sweet that Kaeloo even gives Mr. Cat a hug. Then, halfway through the episode, Quack Quack goes insane and tries to cannibalize Kaeloo and Stumpy, and successfully eats half of Kaeloo's brain, leaving her unintelligible, and Mr. Cat has to step in and save the day.
  • Legend of the Three Caballeros is a light-hearted, brightly-coloured Disney show, yet many of its antagonists are extremely creepy undead or demonic entities and the main characters actually die at one point.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack is also like this. One episode showed what appeared to be a cute child turn out to be a creepy looking older guy.
    • Another episode repeatedly cuts away to a terrifying picture of a live-action cat's face with large black pits for eyes and a round mouth with needle-like teeth.
  • The original My Little Pony pilot, "Rescue at Midnight Castle". Starts off with rainbow ponies playing around and a cute song, and then suddenly switches to ponies being kidnapped by the dragon-like minions of a demonic centaur. It only gets worse after that with the ponies being turned into monsters, and the villain threatening to decapitate a baby dragon.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic continues the series' fine tradition of cute cartoon ponies facing dangerous situations and sinister evil-doers.
    • "Party of One" has Pinkie Pie become depressed because she thinks her friends don't like her anymore, but she starts going insane, having a party with some Companion Cubes and getting Twitchy Eyes, accompanied with abstract flickering backgrounds and enough Creepy Circus Music to make you think the makers of Silent Hill were behind the scene.
    • "The Return of Harmony" introduces Discord, a goofy-looking Mix-and-Match Critter trickster villain who starts causing chaos in Equestria by making a cotton-candy-and-chocolate storm, and sets up a game for the ponies to play in order to defeat him. Said game has him gleefully break and corrupt five of them, and deliberately rig the game to make it impossible for him to lose. The first part ends with him winning, and he spends most of the second part turning Equestria into a World of Chaos and rubbing Twilight's face in her failure until she (temporarily, thankfully) crosses the Despair Event Horizon.
    • "Lesson Zero", infamously so. The series is no stranger to Sanity Slippages, but Twilight's descent into paranoia and insanity, complete with an endless parade of Nightmare Faces, is immensely disturbing.
    • In "Hearth's Warming Eve'', the play starts out somewhat serious, but still not that bad. Then come the Eldritch Abominations that feed off the founders' Fantastic Racism and attempt to freeze the entire world. Keep in mind that the play is based directly off of the history of Equestria's founding, so it most certainly did happen in "real life".
    • "Baby Cakes", mostly a run-of-the-mill Babysitting Episode, but in one scene Pinkie momentarily loses track of the foals, and it's accompanied with "Psycho" Strings. Probably relatable to anyone who's had a child go missing while under your care. She finds them soon enough though (just in their bedroom).
    • "A Canterlot Wedding:" Twilight Sparkle has apparently messed up big time, and she's sad, but it looks like Cadance and she will make up. Then we see that "Cadence" is evil. Part 2 ratchets up the horror even further, with a full scale invasion of Canterlot by bug-like shape-shifting monsters.
    • The Chimera from the episode "Somepony To Watch Over Me" in season 4 was definitely a big surprise. She is arguably the creepiest villain in the whole show and is especially surprising because it is the first time a truly scary villain has ever shown up in any episode that wasn't either a season opener or a season finale, and that episode seemed like a typical comedic Slice of Life episode at first.
    • Sweetie Belle's nightmare in "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils" is surprisingly disturbing for an otherwise mundane Slice of Life episode.
    • The Season 5 premiere "The Cutie Map" makes it seem like the original target audience was an afterthought. It features a Well-Intentioned Extremist Knight Templar as the villain, who literally tears the cutie marks right off the flanks of ponies and completely breaks them with imprisonment and psychological abuse until they comply and are willing to live in her town that looks troublingly like a concentration camp. She tops it off with a Villain Song based on World War II propaganda music and some incredibly dark lyrics:
    • While not as messed up as Sweetie Belle's, Apple Bloom's nightmare in "Bloom and Gloom" is quite dark as well.
    • "The Cutie Re-Mark" has Starlight Glimmer traveling into the past to make sure the Mane Six never united and throws Twilight into a series of Bad Futures where one of the previous villains had won. Each is darker and more messed up than the last, beginning with King Sombra putting mind-control helmets onto every last citizen of the Crystal Empire and the lands he's conquered to make them fight to the death for him. Even the Bad Future pertaining to Flim and Flam turns out to be quite unsettling, as the brothers have turned Equestria into an industrial wasteland with the sky a dark orange from the pollution.
    • "The Mean 6" features Psycho Rangers of the ponies who are running amock being jerks and plotting to escape Queen Chrysalis's control. On the whole the "creepiest" it gets are a couple of Implied Death Threats from Chrysalis, while it's largely a silly episode with some hijinks when the ponies and their evil versions interact with each other. Then out of nowhere the Tree of Harmony graphically kills the Mean Six in a scene so honestly messed up that it actually had to be toned down before release (a comparison of the old and new scenes). It then abruptly cuts back to the ponies apologizing for their behaviors, not even realizing the evil clones had even existed, and learning a friendship lesson as per the norm.
    • The Season 9 premiere starts out with the return of Grogar and a Villain Teamup between all the surviving Big Bads (and Sombra, who was resurrected), with Sombra striking out on his own to take down Equestria. Though if you were expecting him to get sealed away or turned to stone or sent flying, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, get a load of Twilight Sparkle and her friends graphically killing King Sombra on screen, complete with his skin being torn off his body as he screams in agony. It is very evident the show's crew knew this was their final season and that they didn't have to hold back.
  • Over the Garden Wall: There's the ending Cartoon Network logo which features our two heroes looking like dark spirits with soulless eyes, which is actually a reference to the fact that they're in a purgatory world and are facing death. And since that's the end credits logo that means we get Surprise Creepy after every episode.
  • The Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted!" starts as a typical episode, but it all changed when their mother actually finds out about the boys' shenanigans. From then on, it becomes way darker and morbid than a typical episode. It turned out to be All Just a Dream at the end, but still.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) has the infamous episode "Speed Demon". The Powerpuffs decide to race home from school... and go so fast that they warp into a strange, warped and destroyed version of Townsville. There, they see that the townspeople have gone insane. The Mayor is dead and Miss Bellum blames herself. Professor Utonium (their father figure) is obsessed with futilely recreating his girls (and attacks the real things when he thinks they're hallucinations). And their kind-hearted schoolteacher just stands in place, right where she was waving goodbye to the Powerpuff Girls before they vanished for over 50 years. It's at this point that the already-creepy villain known only as Him shows up and reveals his true form, informing the girls that because they weren't around to save the day, this nightmare world is all their fault. They manage to go back in time so they can stop the Bad Future by being there to save the day, but the Fridge Horror of the episode is palpable.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show and SpongeBob SquarePants jump from Surreal Humor to Surreal Horror with jarring speed and are both very fond of the Gross-Up Close-Up and other terrifying imagery.
  • There was a short called "The Snow Man", which was the former page image. Starts off really cutesy, with a human and his animal friends building a snowman and dancing around, but all hell breaks loose when the snowman comes to life and goes on a rampage. The snowman eats a fish whole along the way, but it's set free when the snowman melts at the end. All's well that ends well... until the fish lets out a sinister laugh that sounds exactly like the snowman. There are a couple of other strange things in the short, like the fact that the animal skin the boy has on his bed for warmth comes to life and licks the boy's face, being just portrayed as an animal giving its owner a sweet good-night kiss. Later the boy is riding a polar bear and makes the animal come to a complete stop. As he does so, he grabs the polar bear's tail and pulls, which makes the skin and fur slide off the bear's body before snapping back, as if the fur and skin were just clothes. It's an old cartoon and was meant to be silly, but old cartoons did some creepy things back in the day, all without meaning to, thanks to the old cartoon rule of everything being sentient, goofy, happy and cute.
  • Steven Universe. On the surface, it looks like a fantasy series about a group of warriors and the boy trying to understand his powers, while they fight monsters of the week. It's mostly very heartwarming and lighthearted, but Steven nearly gets himself turned into a grotesque cat monster (confirmed to be a reference to, of all things, AKIRA) by being unable to control his shapeshifting powers once, the aforementioned monsters are really Gems like the heroes that have been corrupted in some way, there was an episode that ended with Steven watching several copies of him turn to dust and die for real, a colossal monster inhabiting the inside of Earth threatening to destroy it and all living things, and the rotten cherry on top is in the episode "Chille Tid" where Steven has a dream (an obvious reference to old sitcoms). Everything goes pretty normal for the most part. Steven is waiting for Connie for his first dance. He opens the door and... a two-eyed Garnet wearing sunglasses comes in and gives him advice for it. The second time he opens the door, instead of Connie we get Lapis Lazuli with jets of water pouring out of her eyes and mouth. It's agreed through the fandom that it was one of the most unsettling moments of the entire series. Luckily, the series manages to still be strong Sweet Dreams Fuel on countless levels.
    • And let's not forget the one time Steven and Garnet go off alone and uncover a Homeworld lab where gem shards have been forcibly fused together for millennia. Once you realize the underlying symbolism of this, it becomes genuinely disturbing on all levels. Even Garnet almost comes undone over this one.


Video Example(s):



From "Why To Food", Chef Jonathan Lonathan writes a silly little poem about how much he loves blueberries.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

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Main / SurprisinglyCreepyMoment

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